Fifteen (15) journalists from selected media houses have pledged to promote the course of the poor and the vulnerable in Ghana. According to them, there is the need for a deliberate and consistent media focus on human-centred stories because the media is fast losing its traditional agenda setting role.
They said, it appears “the media is dictated to by the political class who are able to change or set their own political agenda for the media to follow”. Part of the problem, they observed, is that, a lot of media owners are either politicians or are affiliated to various political parties. As a result, the media is “pushed to publish what politicians bring to them, while many journalists remain naive about this “deliberate manipulation of the media by the political class”.
They further noted that, most media houses “compete for news with each other rather than sharing and collaborating on stories, while some citizens also tend to follow sensational issues at the expense of social and developmental issues”. In this environment, “it can only take a deliberate and consistent push for action on issues that affects poor and voiceless citizens in order to achieve results, they noted.
The selected journalists made this pledge during a 1-day training organized for them by Crime Check Foundation (CCF) as part of the implementation of the foundations’ ‘Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy’ project. They were carefully drawn from media houses including Multi-Media (JOY FM, ADOM FM, NHYIRA), Citi FM, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Ghana News Agency, United Television, The Daily Graphic, Radio Peace (Winneba), The Ghana Report, and thinknewsonline. Others were freelance journalists. The training was held on Thursday, 26th August, 2021 at the Ghana International Press Centre, Accra.
Objective of the CCF-OSIWA project:
The main objective of the project which is funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), is to create an enabling environment for ‘vagrants’ (the homeless, street hawkers, head potters, vendors, truck pushers, market women, etc.) to know, claim and exercise their rights and responsibilities in Ghana. The training for the journalists, therefore, sought to equip them to support sensitization campaigns on vagrancy laws, monitor effects of vagrancy laws, and participate in CCF actions aimed at reducing harassments, arrests, fines, as well as imprisonments of vagrants in Ghana.
Sensitization on the Rights of Vagrants:
A senior lawyer, Madam Doris Bangfo from Dery & Co took participants through rights of vagrants contained in an opinion ruling on vagrancy laws, delivered on 4th December, 2020 by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and various provisions of Ghana’s Constitution and international human rights provisions that protect the rights of poor and vulnerable persons. She noted that the opinion ruling on vagrancy laws forms the basis for protecting vagrants and the passage of the Non-Custodial Sentencing Bill.
The Executive Director of CCF Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng, who is also a senior journalist and Ambassador Extraordinaire of Ghana Prisons reminded fellow journalists about the need to support the campaign for the passage of the non-custodial sentencing bill which has been on the drawing board for more than 7 years. He also reminded them of their collective responsibility to support CCF in pushing for the creation of Legal Aid Offices in many districts which do not have one because these offices are supposed to provide legal support for poor and vulnerable citizens who need legal services.
Mr. Abdul Haye Moomen, a senior journalist with the Ghana Broadcasting Cooperation took fellow journalists through guidelines for ethical reportage. This is meant to equip them to support CCF in monitoring and protecting the rights of vagrants in Ghana.
About OSIWA: The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), established in 2000, is a grant-making and advocacy organization focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights, and knowledge generation. It is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations spread across 37 countries around the world. He said the Assemblies outrageously fine these vagrants for committing petty offences.
Citizens’ Complaints: To report harassment and potential imprisonment under a local assembly bye-law, please contact or whatsApp: 0559544199 / 0507353539.
Prepared by Cosmos Kwame Akorli, Project Lead