The National Media Commission has determined that the treatment meted out to Mr Caleb Kudah, a journalist with Citi FM/Citi TV, by operatives of the Ministry of National Security and the subsequent invasion of the premises of Citi FM & Citi TV on Tuesday, May 11, this year were wrong.
The commission took the view that all institutions in a democratic state must act within the law and adopt approaches that reflected democratic values.
Excessive and unprofessional
This was the outcome of the commission’s settlement meetings under the Coordinated Mechanism for the Safety of Journalists following a response from the Ministry of National Security that the handling of Mr Kudah and its presence on the premises of the media house were “excessive and unprofessional”.
In a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr George Sarpong, the commission welcomed the actions taken so far by the ministry and expressed the hope that they represented a renewed commitment to democratic approaches to the management of security in the country.
The commission further called for the review of laws relating to security and the media, especially those on prohibited areas, within the context of the 1992 Constitution.
The commission also advanced the view that all journalistic enterprises must be carried out openly, following thoroughly the due process.
“However, there could be moments when overriding national interest may necessitate the use of undercover methods. In such moments, journalists require greater care and circumspection to ensure their safety,” it said.
The commission stated that in the national interest, and as a way of strengthening democracy, there must be regular orientation programmes for both the media and security operatives to recognise and appreciate each other’s role.
The NMC’s pronouncements represent how it expects national security to operate.
The commission expects that following investigations and National Security’s own admission of excessive and unprofessional conduct, the commission will do self-introspection towards positive reforms.
The commission, Mr Sarpong told Graphic Online, would keep its eyes on the situation and make interventions when it became necessary.
Accra-based Citi FM/Citi TV petitioned the National Media Commission (NMC) about three weeks ago to investigate the arrest and assault of its journalist, Mr Caleb Kudah.
The company asked the commission to investigate the subsequent invasion of its premises by operatives of National Security.
A letter signed by the Managing Director of CITI FM/TV, Mr Samuel Attah-Mensah, dated May 14, this year and addressed to the NMC said Mr Kudah was arrested on the premises of National Security on May 11 for filming abandoned MASLOC vehicles parked on the premises.
Mr Kudah was at the ministry to verify a claim by an official of MASLOC that all the cars had been given out, after he (Kudah) had complained about wastage of public funds on social media.
However, on his way out of the premises, he was accosted by some officials of National Security, who raised an alarm and accused him of filming national security installations to foment trouble.
Kudah was subsequently subjected to beating, torture and abuse, while other operatives stormed the premises of the media house to arrest a female journalist, Mrs Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo, who had received the video footages from Kudah.