The National Media Commission (NMC) has called on relevant parties and stakeholders in the country to focus on the future following the outcome of trial against attackers of UTV.
According to the Commission, it has indeed noted the outcome of the trial of the persons who invaded the UTV studios. It indicated that although there are differing views on the verdict of the case among the public, there is the need to exercise discretion and restraint.
“We have also noted the justifiable expression of disappointment by the GJA in what they consider as the leniency of the sentences. While the healthy discussions continue, we plead a focus to the future…”National Media Commission
Justifying its stance, the Commission explained that there is some level of “novelty” in the courage of a sitting Minister, a member of Parliament and an active politician in reporting members of his own party to the police for invading a TV station.
This, it noted, must signify a new beginning towards addressing questions of the safety of journalists.
Contained in a statement dated October 18, 2023, signed by the Executive Secretary of the NMC, George Sarpong, it revealed that Information minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice had a choice, however, they elected to exercise that in favor of media freedom.
“That behavior sets a new standard by which government action must be judged into the future. We must hold the Ministers bound by this worthy precedent and define it as the standard by which we expect all future Ministers to act.”National Media Commission
Judges on UTV attack case commended
Furthermore, the Commission indicated that the speed of the trial must give Ghanaians hope of the commitment of the Chief Justice and the judiciary.
Additionally, it also underscored that it is important to acknowledge the police for arresting, investigating and prosecuting the offenders.
“Perhaps one positive aspect of the police action that requires to be highlighted is the responsiveness and professionalism of the commander of the Tesano Police and his team. Above all, the outrage showed by the public should indicate to us the values Ghanaians cherish in our democratic space and the level of decency required of us all.”National Media Commission
Moreover, the Commission conceded that although social progress is sometimes slow, the positive direction it takes can give hope of the incremental gain society stands to benefit if efforts continue in that same positive direction.
As a result, it urged all who care about the safety of journalists to see the conclusion of the case as the first step towards reversing impunity.
“We believe our collective commitment to the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists will ultimately create a safer space for the practice of journalism in Ghana.”National Media Commission
It will be recalled that on October 16, 2023, some youth of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) who stormed the studios of UTV and disrupted the live broadcast of an entertainment show were convicted and fined GH¢2,400 each.
Numbering 16, the police picked them up and they were arraigned at an Achimota Magistrate Court after investigations and charged with conspiracy to commit crime and rioting.
However, reacting to the court’s verdict, a former President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Affail Monney, insisted that Ghana has a long way to go in punishing perpetrators of attacks against journalists in their line of duty.
He stated that he listened with disbelief, the fines imposed on the thugs who invaded UTV. Describing it as a “slap on the wrist”, he noted that the “hearts of evangelists of press freedom, and apostles of democracy are bleeding profusely from what the court did”.