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Radio journalist harassed, prevented from working

(MFWA/IFEX) - On May 12, 2011, plainclothes national security officials operating at the National Passport Office in Accra, the capital of Ghana, harassed and prevented Hannah Odame, a reporter of Joy FM, an Accra-based independent radio station, from interviewing a group of frustrated passport applicants, who had gathered at the entrance of the Passport Office over undue delay of their passports.

Ms. Odame, who was accused of not having permission to report in the precincts of the Passport Office, was detained for about one and a half hours at the office and had her recorder confiscated. She was released upon the intervention of Baba Jamal, a Deputy Minister of Information.

Ms. Odame told Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) that after interviewing two of the applicants, two of the security operatives approached her and ushered her into the premises. This, she said, was a deliberate attempt to prevent her from interviewing the applicants.

According to the reporter, during her detention, she was forced to play the recordings on two occasions. She got her recorder back after she boarded a vehicle back to her office.

The Deputy Minister described the incident as unfortunate but added that the reporter did not respect the rules of the Passport Office.

"We need to make it clear that there are rules and regulations. So you can conduct your work, your own work, yes, but within the limits of the rules and regulations of other departments. If you don't do that we will not be safe as a country," he told Joy FM.

In recent months there have been many cases of national security personnel interfering with journalists reporting on issues involving the security agencies.

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