The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called on military authorities to launch an immediate investigation into the unrestrained attacks on a TV3 cameraman, Stanley Nii Blewu and deal with the soldier squarely, if he is found guilty.
This comes after the GJA received with utter shock and intractable concern reports of brutalities meted out by a soldier to the TV3 cameraman.
In a statement signed by the GJA President, Mr Rolland Affail Monney, GJA explained that the cameraman had gone to Tema Station in Accra Central to do a story on the state of sanitation there after pronouncement by the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Hon. Cecilia Dapaah, that the government had achieved 85 percent of its target of making the capital the cleanest city in Africa.
According to the reports, the soldier asked a police officer to arrest the TV3 crew for taking shots of a clean-up exercise on Wednesday.
The policeman reportedly declined and pointedly told the soldier that the cameraman had not committed any crime for filming the clean-up in a public space.
This infuriated the soldier who then instructed other security personnel and city guards to surround the cameraman for refusing to surrender his phone and camera.
In the words of Stanley Blewu, the soldier “kicked my abdomen and left thigh multiple times, hit my right hand with heavy blows several times until my phone fell off and he grabbed it,” GJA stated.
It further explained that,"The cameraman followed the soldier to the AMA headquarters to retrieve his phone and damaged camera, only to see the soldier busily deleting all the shots. The soldier brazenly assaulted the cameraman the more, with “three strong kicks in the abdomen. That was at the reception hall of the AMA headquarters."
In a move to save his life, GJA said the cameraman, was rushed to the PRO’s office where the soldier again inflicted “heavy blows” on Stanley Blewu’s neck, adding that he reportedly left the AMA office with a swollen arm and excruciating pains all over his body.
"The GJA views the flurry of brutish attacks on the TV3 cameraman as a barbaric infringement on press freedom guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution. The display of naked impunity and unwarranted attacks on journalists, especially in their line of duty, are also a dent on Ghana’s image as a flourishing democracy that highly respects media freedom. The same factors account for the country’s slide down on the World Press Freedom Index," GJA said.
As the December 7 elections inexorably approach, GJA noted that the international community in general and human rights groups in particular have understandably sharpened their focus on Ghana.
It added that,"The most decisive and effectual move to salvage the country’s luminous image is for the military authorities to launch an immediate investigation into the unrestrained attacks on the TV3 cameraman and deal with the soldier squarely, if he is found guilty."
GJA stressed that,"It is needless to emphasize that Ghana has come too far to backslide in her democratic strides, respect for human rights and practice of media freedom. Any act which tends to undermine these strides and soil our image should, therefore, be discouraged or punished to the fullest extent permissible within the law."
Ghana| Atinkaonline.com| Porcia Oforiwaa Ofori