The Association of Women in the Media (ASWIM) has called on the police to investigate and take immediate action on the assault on a female journalist, Ohemaa Sakyiwaa, by a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Hajia Fati, at the party’s national headquarters in Accra last Friday.
A statement issued by the association in Accra yesterday said the incident happened while Ohemaa Sakyiwaa, a reporter of Adom FM, was on an assignment to report on members of the party who were picking nomination forms to contest national executive positions in the party.
It said Ohemaa Sakyiwaa, who is a member of the association, informed ASWIM that while she was on the assignment, she saw Hajia Fati arrive at the NPP office and so she went to Hajia Fati, introduced herself and asked to interview her.
“She was, however, told by a man standing beside her that Hajia was too angry to talk. As a reporter who needed to capture the situation prevailing at the time, Ohemaa Sakyiwaa said she decided to capture the scene at the NPP Headquarters on camera until she could obtain interviews from the people present, including Hajia Fati,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately, just as she began, Hajia Fati smashed her phone and slapped her on the mouth,” it added.
It said some party members who were around took Ohemaa Sakyiwaa to their office.
“We unequivocally condemn the assault on Ohemaa Sakyiwaa. It is unfortunate that such maltreatment of a journalist should occur in the 21st century and immediately after the celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Ghana,” it said.
It noted that the incident was particularly disturbing because it had happened at a time when Ghanaians were so proud that the country had been ranked as 23rd in the world and first in Africa by Reporters Without Borders on the World Press Freedom ranking for an environment conducive to freedom of the press for democracy to thrive.
Indeed, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo recently condemned acts which restrict the practice of journalism when he addressed journalists of the world at the dinner and awards ceremony in Accra.
“Obviously, if journalists are forced to consider their safety first and, therefore, are unable to cover events which could put their lives at risk, this will be to the detriment of the nation and our democracy,” the statement emphasised.
“The association takes a very serious view of the assault of our member and demands that the necessary action be taken against Hajia Fati to send a strong signal to members of the public who take the law into their own hands and blatantly disregard the human rights of others, especially journalists, and continue to manhandle reporters and treat them with disdain,” it said.
It added that the association would follow the matter closely to ensure that justice was done.