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Interior Minister apologises to media, for brutalities by security personnel

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Mr Ambrose Dery  addressing the opening session of the 2018 annual general review meeting of the agencies under the Ministry of the Interior. Picture: EBOW HANSON
Mr Ambrose Dery addressing the opening session of the 2018 annual general review meeting of the agencies under the Ministry of the Interior. Picture: EBOW HANSON

The Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, has rendered an unqualified apology to mass media houses and journalists for attacks on them by security personnel.

He has also charged the security agencies to take immediate steps to build bridges with the media, whom he described as “worthy partners in maintaining security”.

Apology

Speaking to journalists after addressing the opening session of the 2018 performance review meeting of agencies under the Ministry of the Interior, Mr Dery described the violent attacks visited on the media practitioners as “unfortunate”.

“I want to say on behalf of the Interior Ministry and for that matter the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, that we apologise unreservedly for what my sector agencies have done to journalists.

It is not in our spirit to attack journalists because we should be pushing the frontiers of free expression.

“The media have helped the security agencies to protect lives by asking the relevant questions and this is good for us all.

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We are partners so if we are seen to be fighting each other, the criminals will start rejoicing because they will have a field day to operate,” he said.

Background

The Daily Graphic in its Tuesday, March 19, 2019 issue published that no single security person had been prosecuted over attacks on more than 25 journalists and employees of the media since 2006.

The publication said although the perpetrators in some of those cases had been identified, the cases were settled with apologies and promises of better working relationships with the media.

The latest casualties of police brutalities are three journalists of the New Times Corporation – Mr Malik Sullemana, Mrs Raissa Sambou and Mr Salifu Abdul, who were brutalised by a police officer, who was joined by about 10 others on March 14.

The police have since taken no action on the officers.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon of that same day, after the journalists had been assaulted in the morning, a ‘trotro’ driver and his mate assaulted a police officer. The perpetrators were arrested the following day and arraigned in court last Monday.

Professionalism

Addressing participants in the review meeting, Mr Dery asked the security agencies to be professional in the discharge of their duties to win back the citizens’ confidence in their (police) ability to maintain peace and order.

While lauding the efforts by the police, the Ghana Armed Force (GAF), the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and other security agencies for doing their best to maintain peace with limited resources, the minister said there was the need for them to address their shortcomings.

He urged the security agencies to be vigilant and share information that would help clamp down on criminal elements in the society and guarantee the safety of members of the public.

“Ghana can only continue to enjoy accelerated socio-economic development and attract local and international investors when premium is placed on the protection of human life and property, safety and security,” he emphasised.

He gave an assurance that the government would continue to provide the needed support to the security agencies to work well.

Overview

Giving an overview of the sector, Mr Dery said there was an improvement in the 2018 performance by the agencies over that of 2017.

For instance, he said the Ghana National Fire service successfully managed 4,896 undesired fires against the 5,928 that were recorded in 2017.

He explained that the improvement in the performance of the service was as a result of the increased public education on fire by the GNFS.

The minister said the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for its part, conducted 1,753 inspections on various companies, 997 in hotels, 15 in residential premises and 126 in educational institutions.

“The inspections resulted in the arrest of 544 foreign nationals, including 123 who were residing in the country without permits, as against 312 arrests in 2017,” he said.