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Judges letter to media lacks specificity – Baako

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The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr has questioned the Judicial Service over its statement to the media asking for the deletion of some supposedly spiteful stories about Justices presiding over the election petition.

This comes after Thaddeus Sory, acting on the instructions of the Judicial Service last week ordered media houses to “immediately pull down” from their platforms “statements and speeches which convey, and/or insinuate hateful, spiteful, vengeful, incendiary communication against justices of the Supreme Court, especially, those hearing the election petition.”

The development has attracted wide criticisms with many interpreting it as an attempt to gag or abuse media freedom.

Contributing to Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme, the veteran journalist indicated that, the Judicial Service should have clearly pointed out such news reportage and called out the media houses responsible.

To him, the letter should have provided enough room for media houses to recognize whether they have faulted or not by citing specific examples.

He indicated, “My philosophy is to this effect: I prefer ugly noises to a culture of silence. That’s a non-negotiable position relative to our collective experience as a nation and a people. Having stated that: methinks the Judicial Service’s statement lacked specificity and particularisation. That’s its Achilles heel. They should have provided specific instances of the problematic publications they find or found incendiary. And indeed, there have been such publications; some calling for repetition and glorification of the heinous and hideous event of June 30, 1982!

“My preference would have been for the Judicial Service to have petitioned the NMC on the specifics. At worst, they could have done what they did during the 2013 Election Petition. Even though, I do not recommend that option because I detest the animal called CONTEMPT especially the consequences of custodial sentence that usually comes along with it! Let’s criticize the thrust of the Judicial Service’s statement without missing the threats directed at individual members of the Highest Court of the Land. We have a tightrope to walk. And we can!”

Meanwhile the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), at a press conference on Monday, condemned the statement, describing it as an attempt by the Judiciary to stifle press freedom in Ghana.

The GJA also called for its immediate withdrawal.

“If not reversed immediately, the ill-advised, ill-timed, ill-crafted, and ill-issued statement by the Judiciary Service can provoke a tsunamic backlash, lower the dignity of the court in the eyes of freedom lovers and critical citizens, pollute the media environment, undermine our impressive media rankings globally, and dim the beacon of our democracy,” the GJA indicated in a statement.

The Judicial Service is a defense has said the claims are false and it is not in any way picking on the media in fulfilling its mandate.

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