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Another editor summoned over story police claim "undermines their image"

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 23 July 2010, the National Executive Committee of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) called on the Ghana police to use constitutional mechanisms to address grievances and complaints they may have against journalists and the media.

According to the GJA, criminalisation of speech in any form is unacceptable and would be resisted with the support of society in accordance with the 1992 Constitution.

At a meeting between the GJA and the Ghana Police Service, there was consensus that the two institutions would cooperate without necessarily compromising each other's roles and that the media was not above the law.

The meeting became necessary when the police summoned two editors over news reports in their respective media outlets.

On 21 July, Enimil Ashon, editor of state-owned "Ghanaian Times" newspaper, was summoned by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the police over a story they said was undermining their image.

Earlier on 19 July, Ato Kwamena Dadzie, acting news editor of Joy FM, an Accra-based independent radio station, was charged with "publishing false news with intent to cause fear or harm to the public or to disturb the public peace," contrary to Section 208 of the country's Criminal Code of 1960." The police have since forwarded his docket to the Attorney General's Department for advice.

Dadzie's invitation sparked widespread condemnation of the application of the law, with Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) requesting that the authorities drop the case and calling on supporters of free speech to take action for the repeal of the law. Center for Democratic Development (CDD), an Accra-based governance NGO, also in a statement called for the repeal of the law.

However, the Ministry of Information in a 21 July statement denied that the police had charged Dadzie, saying he had only been cautioned.

The statement, signed by John Akologu Tia, the minister of information, said "the (President John Atta) Mills administration believes in the strengthening of our institutions, including the media, and will be the last to truncate the freedom of the press, but the rights that are enjoyed by the media must be balanced with responsibility."

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