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Radio journalist assaulted, briefly detained by election security team

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 30 December 2010, six members of the Northern Regional Election Monitoring Task Force arrested and briefly detained radio journalist Issah Murtala Kpambe after violently assaulting him at a polling station in the Tamale Central Constituency.

Kpambe, a correspondent for the state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), was detained at the regional office of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for about thirty minutes. He was released on self recognisance bail upon the intervention of Chief Inspector Ebenezer Tetteh, the regional police public relations officer. He was to present himself again on 31 December.

Kpambe told the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) that the actions against him took place at the Sankpagla polling station when he filmed a scuffle between members of the election taskforce, made up of armed police officers and military personnel, and a group of men.

"I brought out my digital camera and started filming. In less than a minute one of the police officers grabbed my trousers and hit me on the neck. Immediately all their attention was on me. Four police officers and two military officers jumped on me and started kicking and pounding my chest," the journalist said. The officers stripped Kpambe naked and tore his shirt. His digital camera was also damaged and confiscated. The attack continued unabated even after it became clear that Kpambe was a journalist.

"I was held like a criminal at the northern regional police headquarters, and then I was told I was under arrest but no one told me what my offence was," Kpambe said.

Confirming the incident to MFWA, Chief Inspector Tetteh said they are conducting an investigation and will soon make public their findings and recommendations.

MFWA once again condemns the high-handedness of the security agencies in the country. Attacks such as this undermine the rights of journalists and constitute a threat to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Ghana's 1992 Constitution.

MFWA calls on the police inspector general and the minister of interior to ensure that journalists are able to pursue their legitimate duties free from fear or intimidation.

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