Thursday, July 22, 2010

GJA meets Minister...Over Ato Kwamena Dadzie's arrest

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday July 22, 2010
The National Executive of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has met the Minister of Information, John Tia Akologu to discuss the matter in which an Acting Editor of Joy FM, Ato Kwamena Dadzie stands accused for “publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public” under Section 208 of the Criminal Code 1960.

Mr. Dadzie, for close to a week now, is being interrogated at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service after he carried a story on Joy FM that the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA) withdrew its petition against the STX Housing deal from Parliament because of death threats on the lives of the Association’s executives.

Head of the Police Public Affairs, DSP Kwesi Ofori, on Monday confirmed the interrogation of Mr. Dadzie saying the action was not to gag the media but was part of Police efforts to protect life and property.

The DSP has also noted that the intention was not to take Mr. Dadzie to court but he did not say whether the charges would be dropped or not.

The action taken by the police continues to receive massive condemnation from the public particularly civil society organizations who are of the view that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government is trying to use the security agencies to gag the media which is seen as pacesetter on the African continent.

A news release issued in Accra yesterday and signed by Affail Monney, Vice President of the GJA said “after four hours of fruitful deliberations, the GJA restated its position that criminalization of speech in any form will undermine the credentials of Ghana as a beacon of freedom of expression and democracy.”

“The GJA accordingly requested Minister to impress upon the Attorney General and Minister for Justice to re-look the decision to maintain a charge against Joy FM under the Criminal Code 1960”.

The release said the GJA however agreed that there are questions about media accountability that must be tackled and recommended to the Ministry to continue to make use of the National Media Commission (NMC) in dealing with such matters.

It said Mr. Tia Akologu expressed appreciation to the GJA for the meeting and promised the commitment of the Ministry to partner the media in expanding the frontiers of freedom and strengthening public accountability.

The release said the Minister “explained that the Ministry had and will continue to engage positively with the media”and added“Hon. Tia Akologu also urged the GJA to promote high journalistic standards.”

It said “both sides agreed to collaborate to use best practices to promote media accountability.

The release mentioned James Agyenim-Boateng, Deputy Minister of Information and Stan Dogbe, a Presidential Aide as those who formed the Minister’s group at the meeting with Affail Monney, Bright Blewu (General Secretary), Dave Agbenu (Organizing Secretary), Mrs. Linda Asante-Agyei ( Treasurer) and Kwasi Afriyie Badu (Legal Advisor) making up the GJA delegation.

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