The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called for a truce in the Radio Ada and the Ada Traditional Council impasse.
It also urged the Ada Traditional Council to use due process of law to address its concerns against Radio and not to take the law into its own hands.
It said the imposition of restrictions on Radio Ada and its reporters during the celebration of this year’s Asafotufiam festival by Traditional Council was unjustifiable.
Describing the restrictions as an affront to press freedom as guaranteed in Article 21(1)(a) and (f) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the GJA said the Council must also refrain from actions that had the tendency to endanger the lives of the radio station and its staff.
Speaking at a press conference to address the impasse between the traditional council and the radio station, Mr Albert Dwumfour, the GJA President, said the
Ada Traditional Council did not have the right or powers to impose such restrictions.
He said after news of the impositions broke out, the GJA sent a fact-finding delegation comprising the General Secretary, Mr Kofi Yeboah, and the Organising Secretary, Mr Dominic Hlordzi, to Ada to interact with staff of station and persons close to the Traditional Council to have a good appreciation of the issues at stake.
Mr Dwumfour said in the course of the GJA’s fact-finding mission, persons close to the Ada Traditional Council expressed deep concern about the use of ‘insulting’ and ‘disrespectful’ language by programme hosts of Radio Ada against the chiefs while citing the regular practice of the reporters, mentioning the names of chiefs without their titles, and inciting the people to hoot at them among name calling during a demonstration.
The GJA President said, whilst appreciating the concerns of the chiefs, especially what they described as ‘unrefined language’ used to address them by reporters of the station, the GJA believed that the imposition of restrictions on the station and its reporters was unjustifiable.
He said the GJA considered the barring of the three reporters from wearing paraphernalia of the station and particularly the mention of their names, as a threat to their lives and that of their families.
“We should be mindful of how such public disclosure of names of journalists had led to their killing,” he said.
He said despite lodging a complaint at the National Media Commission (NMC) against Radio Ada for professional misconduct which was commendable and an appropriate forum to seek redress on such matters, the Traditional Council violated the rules on complaint settlement of the NMC per the imposition of restrictions on the radio station and its reporters.
He said, Section 13(2) of the NMC Act, 1993 (Act 449) provided that, “A person who has lodged a complaint with the Commission shall, unless he withdraws the complaint, exhaust all avenues available for settling the issue by the Commission before a recourse to the courts”.
“Since the complaint by the Ada Traditional Council was still pending, and had not been withdrawn, the Council violated the NMC rules of engagement for complaint settlement by constituting itself into a traditional court to punish the radio station and its staff.” Mr Dwumfour Said.
While encouraging the Ada Traditional Council and the management of Radio Ada to find amicable ways of resolving their differences, he urged the Council to refrain from actions that had the tendency to endanger the radio station and the lives of its staff.
He also advised Radio Ada and its staff to stop using insulting or unacceptable language in the discharge of their duties.
“We believe one major significance of festivals is to use the occasion to foster peace and unity among people to promote the development of the community,” the GJA President said.
“We also recognize the concept of community radio as the rallying force for the promotion of the culture and socio-economic development of the host communities,” he added.
Mr Dwumfour urged both parties to consider each other as partners in development and work together to promote development in the area.