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Investigation launched into journalist mistreatment allegation

Following IPI Letter to President, Ghana Embassy Says 'Matter Receiving Serious Attention'

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 4 February 2010 - The Office of the President of Ghana is giving "serious attention" to allegations that Ghanaian journalist James Donkor was mistreated by police, following a 19 November IPI letter addressed to H.E. President John Evans Atta Mills.

In a 28 January letter to IPI, the Head of Mission of the Ghanaian Embassy in Vienna, H.E. Mr. Ernest Amporful, noted that the IPI letter had been forwarded to the Office of the President, which "has since indicated that the matter was receiving serious attention." The letter said that the outcome of the investigation would be communicated to IPI "in due course."

Mr. Donkor was allegedly arrested and detained while attempting to photograph a man whom police had allegedly tied to an electric pole for "disrespecting them." Mr. Donkor told IPI his cell phones were seized, and one was broken. He was handcuffed and brought to a police station, where he was held for three hours without any opportunity to make a statement.

Police only released Mr. Donkor after a colleague, who had come to the police station to inquire about Mr. Donkor's detention, agreed to delete the photograph from Mr. Donkor's camera.

In its letter to President Mills, IPI said: "The alleged circumstances of Mr. Donkor's arrest represent a clear violation of press freedom and, even more troubling, a breach of the rule of law."

In response to the letter from the Ghanaian Embassy, IPI Director David Dadge said: "We welcome the suggestion by the Ghanaian Embassy that an investigation has been launched and that the matter is receiving 'serious attention.' It is now vital that the investigation be conducted in a transparent, committed manner, and that if anyone is found to have committed a crime, they be held accountable."

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