The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has condemned the Ghana Police Service (GPS) for arresting and maltreating some journalists who covered the #OccupyJulorbiHouse demo in Accra on Thursday.
The GJA in a statement issued in Accra on Friday said the “conduct of the Police was highly unprofessional, absolutely unwarranted and inherently repugnant to press freedom and the dignity of the affected journalists.”
“The GJA is utterly disappointed in the Police for lowering the bar of professionalism by arresting and maltreating journalists who did not breach any law but rather breached their comfort on a national hallowed day (Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day) to discharge their cardinal duty of informing the general public about happenings in the country.”
According to the Association, its investigations indicated that some journalists, including correspondents of foreign media organisations such as the BBC, AFP and AP, were arrested in spite of the fact that they properly identified themselves.
“In other instances, some journalists were maltreated and the Police seized their working equipment, leaving them traumatized in the process. In the case of a Metro TV reporter arrested at the Accra Regional Police Headquarters for taking video of happenings there, our investigations indicated that she was manhandled by some police officers after arrest,” the statement added.
The GJA said some of the journalists were arrested near the 37 Lorry Station, which was a converging location for the demonstrators, and were transported in the bucket of a police pick-up vehicle guarded by armed police officers to the Accra Regional Police Headquarters.
“Our investigations further established that the police officers who effected the arrest did not inform the journalists about their offence except to say they (police officers) were acting on ‘orders from above’. However, a few minutes after they arrived at the Accra Regional Police Headquarters, a senior police officer was reported to have ordered their release because journalists were not among the targets of the arrest.”
“Unfortunately, the Police, who had refused to allow the journalists to drive in their own vehicles to the Accra Regional Police Headquarters, left them stranded after their release, as they struggled to find their way back to the 37 Lorry Station area to pick their vehicles,” the statement stated.
The GJA said the conduct of the Police in arresting and maltreating the journalists who were non-targets, transporting them in the bucket of a pick-up vehicle (not designed to carry human beings) like criminals and leaving them stranded after release to find their own way back to pick their vehicles from such a long distance, was highly unprofessional and inhumane.