Investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni has pledged to go after police officers and other players in the justice delivery chain who subject suspects into unlawful custody breaching their human rights.
Mr. Awuni said the media has not been proactive in exposing personnel of the justice sector institutions who perpetrate such infractions.
The award-winning journalist was speaking at the inauguration of eight journalists known as the Media Ambassadors selected to champion the Justice Sector Support Activity (JSSA) under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Accra on October 21.
Mr. Awuni said if journalists continue to remain silent, such infractions will persist which would lead to the total collapse of the justice delivery sector.
The Media Ambassadors, who mostly champion human rights include investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Abdul Hayi Moomen of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, TV3’s Johnnie Hughes, and Despite Media’s Afia Pokuaa.
The others included Nana Yaa Konadu of the Despite Media, Joseph Ziem of Savannah News, Prince Tamakloe, Kesmi FM, and Seth Kwame Boateng of the Multimedia group.
Mr. Awuni charged his colleagues to pursue incidents of infractions to ensure that persons who perpetrate such illegalities are brought to book.
“When people are punished for putting people into prison wrongly, others else will not put innocent persons into jail for five years but we only talk about it and allow them to go as if nothing is wrong. So I and the rest of the ambassadors will follow up on such stories to ensure that the story is fully told on how the innocent person ended up there and what punishment there is for those who ensured their incarceration,” he said.
With their huge following, the ambassadors pledged to push for reforms in Ghana’s justice delivery system on their various platforms to put stakeholders in the justice sector on their toes to improve justice delivery in the country.
They however appealed to justice sector institutions to make available information to help them educate the citizenry to increase their knowledge and access to justice.
The journalists called out justice sector institutions including the police, prisons service, judicial service who usually use security reasons to obstruct access to information.
”We are just vehicles to convey information. We are not manufacturers to convey information so when we come to those of you who own the information, you should be willing to give us the information. Without that our ambassadorial positions will come to naught,” Abdul Hayi Moomen indicated.
According to Afia Pokua, ‘we the media are seen as the answer when people do not get justice although we are not. We are only a means to the processes of the answer. Our frustration however is that we have to pay for these people to get justice and that is why we are happy to be part of this programme.’
Seth Kwame Boateng added, ‘I have been telling others that you do not know what you can do the next minute to take you to jail so if we are pushing for change then we are in the right direction. We will do our best to get the system changed and respond to the need of our brothers and sisters in jail.’
The Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah represented by Supreme Court judge, Justice Yonni Kolendi expressed confidence in the rollout of the project as it would ensure high demand of accountability in justice delivery in Ghana.
He pledged the Judicial Service’s support to collaborate to ensure that justice delivery is improved after implementing the Case Tracking System (CTS) a component of the JSSA.
Justice Sector Institutions (JSIs) present at the event included representatives from the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), the Judicial Service, Prisons Service, and the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ)
USAID Justice Sector Support Activity
The USAID Justice Sector Support Activity is an intervention that seeks to reinforce efforts by the US Government to enhance Ghana’s justice delivery system by increasing Citizen Oversight and Monitoring of Criminal Cases, increasing citizen knowledge and access to Justice Sector services, and strengthening advocacy for accountability of key justice sector institutions for improved justice delivery in Ghana.