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Ghana jails journalist, commentators

By Dasmani Laary in Accra
Posted on Thursday, 28 July 2016 10:33

Salifu Maase, a radio talk show host and panellists, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, were found guilty of contempt charges by the Supreme Court following a debate they held over the credibility of Ghana’s voters’ roll early this year.

we have to know that there are legal landmines and potholes which we should not fall into

Nelson and Gunn made the threats against chief justice Georgina Theodora Wood and in other judges in a programme moderated by Maase.

Initially, the trio were sentenced to four months in jail and fined $2,500 each for “scandalising the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing it into disrepute.”

The sentence was the reduced to 120 days. If they fail to pay the fine by Thursday their jail sentence would be increased by a month.

The court also fined the owners of Montie FM radio station, which broadcasted the interview $15 200. One of the station’s owners in famous Ghana sports administrator and millionaire Harry Zakour.

Again, if owners of the station fail to pay the fine by Thursday they would be sent to jail for a yet to be specified period.

The jailing of the journalist and the commentators came a month after the government said it was concerned about the growing use of hate speech and vowed to crackdown on those found on the wrong side of the law.

Meanwhile, the imprisonment of the three has been met with mixed feelings with Ghana Journalists Association president, Affail Monney saying “we are bleeding now because some of our people are going to jail, but we have to move on and do what is right.”

“We have latitudes as media practitioners in the course of our practice but we have to know that there are legal landmines and potholes which we should not fall into,” Monney was quoted saying.

Ghana’s parliament early this month banned a journalist from the State owned newspaper, Daily Graphic, from covering ITS proceedings after he misrepresented facts.

Mark-Anthony Vinorkor had written a story alleging that lawmakers made changes to a constitutional instrument in violation of the law.

The journalist is still facing a parliamentary probe despite apologising profusely to the 275 legislators.

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