Peter Bismark Coffie, President of the Institute of Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI), has called for a broader conversation on free speech in the country.
Commenting on the President’s call for free speech not to be abused in the country, he said a conversation on the free speech will help educate the politicians, individuals and the media on what it actually entails.
“The President to some extent failed to mention politicians when it comes to abuse of the freedom of speech. There should be further conversation on the free speech and what it actually entails for politicians, individuals and the media.”Peter Coffie
Mr. Coffie averred that the individualistic aspect of free speech as well as the institutional aspect of press freedom must be looked at.
“When it comes to the individualistic side, the politicians and everyone has their opinion. When it comes to the institutions like the media, it also has the liberty to pick up some of these comments from social commentators, politicians, analysts and experts to also use that to communicate to the public.”Peter Coffie
Politicians and media interested in news drivers
He then stated that it’s due to this that both sides are often interested in what will drive the news rather than what will drive the element of development.
“So, you see that the politicians make allegations and the media is happy about it. They will pick the news so they get the traffic and then it becomes the topic of the day. I am worried because we have not been able to some extent, realize that although we have that freedom of expression and the constitution also guarantees the right to freedom of expression as well as press freedom, we are always trying to ask politicians to drive the agenda for us and I think that is what we have to look into.”Peter Coffie
Also contributing to the discussion, Honorable Yves Hanson-Nortey, MP for Tema Central commended the President for touching on free speech.
Free speech must have limitations
He was of the view that although it is a good thing, it must have limitations placed on it due to the type of harm it can cause the nation.
“The President I will say hit the nail right on the head. There is a limit to everything and there is also a limit to free speech. Free speech in its self comes with its own responsibilities;and the power of the tongue as we all know is very powerful. If you let loose of your tongue, it can destroy nations as we have seen in some parts of the world in Africa.”Hanson-Nortey
Honorable Nortey also said he is in support of free speech but it must be practiced with safeguards.
“Free speech in itself is good because it allows people to air their views and with divergent views comes development.
“Anything that will gag free speech I will not be able to support. Anything that will allow people to express themselves I wholly support it however; we must have safeguards.”Hanson-Nortey
He was also of the view that, institutions [media] has been allowed to ‘take care of itself’ that is do what they want because of the repealing of the criminal libel law.
“It is because of this that, others were advocating that the libel law shouldn’t have been repealed. I was for the repeal at that time. It’s good, but I think we should create some range for our journalist.”Hanson-Nortey