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Two reporters attacked while covering trial of police officers

(MFWA/IFEX) - Sammy Darko and Cynthia Essandoh, two journalists working with Accra-based media institutions were reportedly attacked on November 17, 2009 while covering the trial of six policemen and their civilian accomplices convicted and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment each on charges of robbery by an Accra High Court.

Darko, a reporter at Joy FM, an independent radio station, was assaulted by a plain-clothes policeman while recording a sound bite of a scuffle that ensued among the convicts when they were handed the sentences.

Darko told Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) that the officer who attacked him was among a number of plain-clothes officers detailed to convey the suspects to prison to serve their sentences. "He kicked me and I rolled off the staircase of the court building." Darko said he lost the USB cord of his recorder and the buttons on his shirt were destroyed.

Essandoh, reporter at privately-owned "Ghanaian Observer" newspaper, had a confrontation with one of the convicts. The convict attempted to smash her camera on the ground as she took shots of the convicts.

MFWA once again condemns attacks on journalists in the course of performing their legitimate duties. What is more worrying is that the police and other security agencies whose duty it is to protect are the perpetrators of these attacks. On October 24, two policemen in Techiman, in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana, violently assaulted a journalist for photographing a victim of police brutality. In August the Ashanti regional editor of Metropolitan Television was detained on the orders of an officer who was identified as S. Quansah of the Kumasi central police. These acts went unpunished.

MFWA calls on the Ministry of Interior and the Inspector General of Police to vehemently condemn these attacks on journalists in particular and citizens in general and also bring the recalcitrant officers to book as a matter of urgency.

Finally, the organisation reiterates its call for the constitutionally-mandated National Media Commission (NMC) and the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) to institute legal action against all perpetrators of attacks on journalists.

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