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Ghana: Arbitrary arrests & torture of journalists, how free is the press?

By Jonas Nyabor
Posted on Wednesday, 26 May 2021 17:43

People read newspapers in the capital Accra. REUTERS/Yaw Bibini

Although Ghana is highly respected for its press freedom credentials globally, the rights of its journalists have often been abused. In the last decade, the number of reported cases of torture and abuse of journalists by Ghanaian security agencies have increased significantly and the lack of prosecution or sanctions against errant officers is believed to have made the situation a worsening epidemic.

Broadcast journalist Caleb Kudah, working with Accra-based Citi FM was physically abused on Tuesday 11 May 2021 while in national security custody without any formal charge.

His recollection of the abuse he was subjected to was vivid and detailed, but it was not unique.

Many journalists in the country have shared similar experiences at the hands of different security agencies including the police, the military and the national security operatives.

Free range

In the last decade, regimes in Ghana have superintended a similar national security structure that has largely operated freely without proper and effective accountability mechanisms.

Arbitrary arrests, torture, assault, verbal abuse, seizure and destruction of material have become commonplace, with journalists as the primary victims.

The Media Foundation for West Africa, a civil society group, has identified over 150 incidents of violation against journalists since 2002, with the majority being physical attacks mostly perpetrated by security agencies.