The President of the Ghana Bar Association, Nene Amegatcher, has cautioned journalists to refrain from prejudging, when the substantive hearing of the petition filed by New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the Supreme Court, challenging the validity of the 2012 presidential election begins.
According to him the least misinformation or wrong interpretation of procedures and facts, even innocently, could have serious consequences for the country.
Mr. Amegatcher was speaking at a media dialogue organised by the Editors Forum Ghana (EFG) in collaboration with GBA on the theme: ‘The media and the law: Responsibilities and rights of journalists’.
The Supreme Court has fixed April 16, 2013, to start hearing of the substantive matter of the Election Petition filed by three leading members of the NPP, comprising the party’s presidential candidate for the 2012 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and the party’s chairman, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey challenging the validity of the 2012 presidential election.
Mr. Amegatcher said prejudging the court case before the final ruling could affect the peace and stability of the nation.
He therefore urged journalists to be circumspect in their reportage in order not to infringe on the law, adding that ‘Sensationalism should be avoided because it has a tendency of inciting the general public’.
Mr. Amegatcher admonished journalists to check and crosscheck their stories before publishing them, adding that ‘we must all learn to do things properly in the country to safeguard the peace of the nation’.
The Chair of the Editors Forum Ghana, Adjoa Yeboah-Afari, in her remarks said most of the time some of the reports published in the media breach the law but journalists do get away with it, questioning, ‘Are we always going to escape the wrath of the people we defame or libel either through carelessness, laziness or unprofessional approach to work’.
She said the ignorance of the law is no excuse that was why the EFG decided to arrange the media dialogue, especially because issues of the present times provide an urgent need for the media to be reminded of the laws that relate to their work.
The EFG, which is affiliated to the GJA, is a group of editors present and past, senior journalists and media educators.
The EFG’s foundation in 2005 was facilitated by the GJA and sponsored by the UNDP under its Peace and Governance Programme. It is meant to be a peer review mechanism, working mostly behind the scenes.
By Cephas Larbi