General News of Sunday, 17 March 2019
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called for the prosecution of the 10 police officers who allegedly assaulted three Ghanaian Times journalists by in Accra on Thursday, March 14, 2019.
CHRAJ asked that the three victims be compensated for the injuries and losses they suffered.
The affected journalists- Salifu Abdul Rahman, Malik Sulemana, and Raissa Sambou Ebu- were said to be travelling in their official vehicle to their various assigned venues when they decided to film an accident involving a police officer riding an unregistered motorcycle and the vehicle transporting the journalists at Kinbu in Accra central.
The about 10 police officers who were not happy that the journalists had tried to record the accident and the ensuing exchanges between their driver and the police motor rider, pounced on the journalists and physically assaulted them.
Mrs Sambou, a lactating mother was rushed to the emergency unit of the Ridge Hospital, while Sullemana, who received a chunk of the assault was locked up at the Ministries Police Station, but was later released.
In a statement signed by its Commissioner, Joseph Whittal, CHRAJ recommended “the prosecution of these errant police officers in a court of competent jurisdiction and not put them through administrative service disciplinary enquiry to serve as deterrent to others and reassure Ghanaians that police officers are not above the law.”
It said the “the Commission wishes to remind the IGP and the Police Service over which he superintends that the timing of this assault by his men on innocent citizens comes on the heels of the clear unprofessional conduct exhibited by police officers in their testimonies before the Emile Short Commission Hearings into the Ayawaso West Wuogon shooting incidents televised live and viewed by all Ghanaians nationwide is most disappointing and not reassuring of professionalism of the service and any lessons learnt.”
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) had earlier condemned the incident.
GJA in a statement signed by its president, Affail Monney said, “we call on the Police Administration to undertake swift investigations into the incident and, for once, punish the perpetrators of such heinous crime.”
?”Reports available to the GJA indicate that a policeman riding on an unregistered motorbike hit a vehicle belonging to the Ghanaian Times around 8:45am today and sped off. The policeman had allegedly jumped traffic and while meandering his way out, his motorbike hit the bumper of a Nissan saloon car belonging to the Ghanaian Times, breaking the mirror and windscreen of the car in the process. His pillion rider who saw what had happened tried to stop him, but the policeman rode on,” the statement indicated.
It added that “the driver of the Ghanaian Times vehicle then chased and managed to block the policeman around Kinbu, a few metres away from the accident scene, whereupon the reporter got off the vehicle and started video-recording the incident with his mobile phone. Angered by that action, the policeman attempted to snatch the mobile phone from the reporter and when he did not succeed, he allegedly punched the face of the reporter, as blood gushed out from his nostril. Other policemen and a soldier in uniform allegedly joined in the beatings of the reporter, pushing, kicking, slapping and punching him.”
“Other reporters of Ghanaian Times in the vehicle – Salifu Abdul Rahaman and Raissa Sambou Ebu – were also heckled, and in the process, Raissa, a nursing mother, collapsed and was rushed to the Greater Accra Regional Hospital for treatment.”
It noted that “according to the reports, the police officers demanded the mobile phone of the reporter and subsequently handcuffed and bundled him into a police vehicle. They then sent him to the Ministries Police Station and detained him for about four hours. The police were said to have ignored several pleas from the reporter to send him to hospital for medical treatment.”
“The reporter was later brought out of the cell and allegedly dragged on the staircase to an office on the second floor where he was asked to write a statement. But he declined to do so, insisting on the presence of his lawyer before proceeding. He was then sent back into the cell, as an officer at the counter continued to hit hit him in the back. It took the intervention of ACP David Eklu, the Director-General of Public Affairs Directorate of the Ghana Police Service, and ASP EfiaTenge, the Accra Region Police Public Relations Officer, to save the reporter from more torture.”
“The GJA finds the assault by the said police officers barbaric in an era of rule of law when the police are supposed to be law enforcers rather than lawbreakers. We call on the Police Administration to find and punish the perpetrators of this dastardly act to serve as deterrent to others and redeem the image of the Ghana Police Service from shameful tag of a brutish institution. This incident must not be added to the list of unresolved cases of assault against journalists by police officers. This culture of impunity must end now!”