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The media is a watchdog; its freedom is essential – CHRAJ 

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The Upper East Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Jalaldeen Abdulai, is encouraging the protection of media rights and freedom. Lawyer Abdulai explained that until the media is adequately protected, it will not be able to discharge its role adequately. 

Lawyer Abdulai made these statements when he spoke at a lecture to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day. It was hinged on the agenda “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for All Other Human Rights towards Ghana’s Development.”

“The importance of freedom of the press and freedom of expression cannot be overstated. The press provides a platform for many voices to be heard, it serves as the public watchdog, an activist for the people, an educator on issues of public interest, and an entertainer. A free press can convey the people’s needs to the government, inform citizens of the successes and failures of their leaders, and also provide a platform for the exchange of information and ideas. Press freedom is a crucial indicator of democracy, thus, restriction of the media breaks down the above importance of the media, leading to poor outcomes for governments and citizens,” he said. 

Lawyer Abdulai explained that the rights and freedoms of the media are protected by the 1992 Constitution. 

“Locally, the 1992 Constitution, which is the supreme law of Ghana, guarantees freedom of expression and the press /media. Chapter 4, Article 21(1)(a), states, All persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media. This goes a long way to solidify the fact that the press/ media freedom is an essential part of the right to freedom of expression and speech. Human rights and freedoms are considered universal, indivisible, interrelated, and interdependent. Looking at Article 21 of the 1992 Constitution, the right to freedom of expression and speech is first on the list of freedoms guaranteed. It is not just any coincidence that it is first on the list, but essentially freedom of expression and speech is an enabler for the achievement of the other freedoms following,” he said. 

Earlier, Lawyer Abdulai joined demands for justice for the brutality meted out to Latif Mahama and the murder of Ahmed Suale.

Lawyer Abdulai also demanded a halt to the verbal and physical abuse of journalists.

“There is no gain in saying that in Ghana there are a number of unresolved brutalities against journalists, and Ahmed Suale and Latif Iddrisu are people we cannot overlook. I therefore join the numerous Ghanaians to call on the Ghana police to put a closure to these investigations in order for us to attain the requirement of the constitution and the UN general thing of world press freedom, and when that happens, no doubt we will be on the march to attaining human rights for all and ultimate development in our democracy.”

World Press Freedom Day is an annual event that is celebrated on May 3rd to promote and defend the freedom of the press and to recognise the importance of a free and independent media in democratic societies. This day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 to raise awareness of the importance of press freedom and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.

World Press Freedom Day serves as an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while doing their jobs. Each year, a theme is chosen to focus on a particular aspect of press freedom, and events and discussions are organised around the world to raise awareness and promote action towards improving the state of press freedom globally.

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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