OneGhana Movement has expressed utter shock and horror at the harrowing ordeal narrated by two journalists – Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri and Emmanuel Britwum, both of ModernGhana, an online news outlet – by officers of the National Security outfit.
In a statement issued in Accra and signed by Emily Kanyir Nyuur, executive secretary, OneGhana Movement condemned in no uncertain terms the torture of the journalists.
According to the two journalists, their arrest followed two publications made by their news outfit on the National Security Minister, Mr Albert Kan Dapaah.
They told OneGhana Movement they were asked to pull down the publications, which they did.
However, they said the operatives raided their office, seized some laptops and carted the two journalists off to a location later identified to be the National Security Secretariat, where they were tortured with electric shocks and also subjected to physical brutality in an attempt to force them either reveal their source(s) or to admit to using pseudo names to concoct stories.
“I received no less than 20 slaps,” Mr Ajarfor told OneGhana Movement.
“Two people were doing the slapping and the electric torturing. They even tortured my ears with the electric shocker.
“They made me lie down backward on my hand with the handcuff and asked [me to get up]. The second part was the military punishment. They made me lean against a wall with my legs up and my hands down as if am doing press up. One hit me with a dying blow and I fell. It was a lot. I cried like a newborn baby begging that I am innocent,” he stated.
OneGhana Movement took note of news reports of government statements suggesting that these journalists were arrested for allegedly engaging in illicit activities against competing media organisations.
But according to the journalists, the claim of hacking into accounts of competitor media houses never came up during their detention and interrogation at the National Security Secretariat.
OneGhana Movement charged the National Security Minister to, as a matter of urgency, thoroughly investigate this inhumane canker within the rank and file of his officers and bring the perpetrators to justice, saying failure to do so should result in him tendering his resignation.
It also appealed to government to commission an independent investigation into the reports of torture of the ModernGhana journalists, and ensure that investigations are conducted thoroughly, impartially and promptly to serve as a deterrent.
In the same vein, it said government should ensure that any security operative found culpable is held accountable for his or her involvement in the attacks.
OneGhana Movement wants government to work on and adopt a national action plan with the sole purpose of safeguarding freedom of expression and safety of journalists, by protecting journalists, primarily, and other groups against threats and attacks.
It called for collaboration between civil society and the government to promote media literacy among security agencies and the general public to ensure that society can understand and stand up in favour of the safety of journalists and the average Ghanaian, and, ultimately, help prevent incidents of security service attacks on the citizenry.
According to Article 162 (4) of the constitution, “Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by government, nor shall they be penalised or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications.”
Article 162 (5) also stipulates that: “All agencies of the mass media shall, at all times, be free to uphold the principles, provisions and objectives of this Constitution, and shall uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people of Ghana.”
It stated, “It is totally unacceptable that in the 21st century and in the 17th year of the 4th Republic of Ghana, journalists are captured with black polythene bags over their heads, sent to a location unknown to them and subjected to long hours of torture by electric shock and physical brutality over publications on their platform, in clear contravention of Article 162 of the constitution.”
Source: The Finder