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Journalists harassed, given shocks by police while covering political party congress

(MFWA/IFEX) - Ato Abban and Issac Nettey, camera operators with TV3 Network Limited, an independent Accra-based television broadcaster, were assaulted by police personnel on security duty at the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) Special Delegates' Congress at the University of Ghana on 22 December 2007.

The Congress was in the process of electing the NPP's presidential candidate for the country's general elections scheduled for December 2008. During the voting process, confusion broke out following an announcement by the national organiser of the party that a supporter of aspiring candidate Alan Kyeremanten had offered money to influence the decisions of some of the delegates.

MFWA's correspondent reported that in reaction to the announcement, a large crowd thronged into the voting area. Police, fearing the crowd might disrupt the voting process, cordoned off the area and ordered both the crowd and journalists, who had set up their equipment and were broadcasting the event live, to leave the area.

Abban told MFWA's correspondent that while the journalists were trying to reposition their equipment, police personnel pushed them away, causing Nettey to fall. Abban also said the police used electrical gadgets to give the journalists electric shocks. They then attempted to seize Abban's camera, bringing broadcasting of the event to a halt for a few minutes.

Israel Laryea, a journalist with Joy FM, an Accra-based private radio station, was also harassed while covering the same event live on radio. Laryea was heard on air saying ". . . are you preventing me from doing my job?"

MFWA has learned that a public relations officer with the Ghana Police Service later tendered apologies to the journalists on behalf of the police.

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