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Justice Honyenuga, Samson Anyenini deserve mention

BY: Daily Graphic
Justice Honyenuga and Samson  Ayenini
Justice Honyenuga and Samson Ayenini

On Thursday, May 5, 2022, our Senior Court Reporter, Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson, appeared before the Supreme Court following a summons for him to explain the content of a story relating to a case pending before the apex court and to reveal his source of information.

Mr Hawkson had written a story published in the Daily Graphic on April 13, 2022 with the headline: “Trustees chase Yaw Boakye for property:

As controversy over Osei Boakye’s assets deepens”. The story involved the legal fight over a property of the late great industrialist, Edward Osei Boakye of Boakye Mattress Fame.

Although Mr Hawkson, accredited by the Judicial Service to report on court cases, had been reporting on the case since 2020, and there was nothing factually inaccurate about the reportage, lawyers for the parties involved in the dispute said the case was not of national importance and wondered why Mr Hawkson reported it.

They further submitted that Mr Hawkson had made references to documents that had been filed but were yet to be heard by the court and therefore it was important for him to appear before the court to disclose his source of information.

To the lawyers, it was a simple matter for a journalist to appear before a court and be ordered to reveal his source of information.

On the backdrop of this, Samson Lardy Anyenini represented our reporter and put up a strong defence explaining that a journalist being ordered to disclose his source of information was not a simple matter.

It was his submission that the summons for a journalist to appear before the apex court and reveal his source of information was irregular and therefore his client had filed a process for it to be set aside.

Mr Anyenini further argued that the reportage by his client was accurate and based on certified documents filed in court.

After listening to the submissions by the lawyers, the presiding judge, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, decided not to allow Mr Hawkson to take the stand and answer questions from the lawyers who wanted him to reveal his source of information. He ruled that if the lawyers had concerns about the story, they knew what to do.

The Daily Graphic commends Justice Honyenuga and Mr Anyenini for their stance on the case and for earning their place as champions of press freedom.

Justice Honyenuga’s comments that the court was a public space and therefore journalists ought to be allowed to freely perform their function was refreshing and encouraging to the ink fraternity.

However, it is sad and disheartening that despite the constitutional guarantee of a free press, there are many instances of journalists being prevented from effectively carrying out their mandate.

These hindrances can sometimes be glaring or subtle.

A journalist thrives on information to effectively perform his or her duties of informing and educating the public.

In view of that, journalists cultivate multiple sources in many areas to feed them with information.

Asking a journalist to reveal his source of information especially when that information would have no adverse effect on national security or public interest is like asking a lawyer to reveal a conversation with a client.

Such a situation would not only put the source at risk but would effectively cripple the work of the journalist. Nobody would trust a journalist who goes about revealing his sources and this means the journalist will be out of work.

Sometimes, some people tend to forget that if the media are silenced and journalists are muzzled, a key pillar of a functioning democracy is crushed.

It means that an institution which is vital to a free society, which seeks to ensure accountability, highlight injustices, inform the public about matters in their interest, and to serve as a conduit between the people and their representatives, is neutralised.

The loss of a free, independent media is essentially the loss of democracy