Friday, February 25, 2011
LAWS THAT ARE INIMICAL TO A COMMUNICATOR
REVIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION
The constitution of Ghana is the operating system and regulatory tool of the government. It is by it that every president must go by. . It is the supreme governing rules of the land, and by it all leaders or heads of state are to rule. And with this we always say “ nobody is above the law”
The constitution of the land touches on every sector of operation in the country of which the media is also part. The media is a prior sector, because of the role it plays in the lives of the citizens. The media informs, educates and entertains. Historically, has faced so many harsh and unfriendly regulations from political parties and many influential people, through their various political strategies, ranging from the registration, censorship to the constitutional provisions; its been just a mere bureaucratic and phrase logical, when it comes to the government and the media.
It is against this that an individual or group of people are lucking some ingredient in terms of good communications in the media. to furthermore, this is hindering them of getting the right of information for the public. Eg is the information bill which is about to be pass.
Article 162(2) of the 1992 constitution states that ‘’there shall be no law requiring any person to obtain a license as a pre-requisite to the establishment or operation of a newspaper, journal or other media of mass communication or information.” Article 162(4) even spice up the media freedom and independence , by providing that “editors and Publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to the control or interference by the government, nor shall they be penalized or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications”. But this is not being practice in real terms, we can see it in our daily lives how some editors are being harassed and denied of their fundamental human right.
, these prescriptions make much sense when the fundamental Human Rights and freedoms of the state is applied here, because Article 21(1) states that “all persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media”. Before the advent or at the time of coming into force of the constitutional provisions, there were some number of state-owned media institutions, so Act 163 was included to ensure that they afford fair opportunity and facilities for the presentation of divergent view and dissenting opinions. This provision thus re-enforces Act 55(11) which states that the state “shall provide fair opportunities to all political parties to present their programmers to the public by ensuring equal access to the state owned media”. This article too is not active because during political season all political parties did not get the chances to have their programmers aired. One political party which is the ruling party always dominate and is like they control the public broadcasting corporation.
For monitoring duties, Article 166 of the constitution makes provision for the establishment of a national media commission – charged with the duties of
• Insulating the state-owned media from government control
• maintenance of professional media standards and ethics
• Adjudication – through its complaints committee in connection with disputes which might arise from complaints made against the press
• Lastly to make regulations by constitutional instrument for the regulation of newspapers and other publications. Even though the media commission is there to regulate the public broadcasting system they are lucking the man power and resources to do that. And they don’t take strict actions against media organizations who goes against the laws.
The constitution holds that the media commission shall not exercise any control over the professional functions of media personnel.
To start it all journalism is the act of gathering information and packaging it for dissemination of the public.
Journalism has certain limitations, which could either be traditional, nominal or strict-imposition of government license as a pre condition for publication. Traditionally, the limitations of journalism which we believe in determines the smooth operations of journalist, which I am of no exception may include – laws of defamation, contempt of court, sedition, laws about official secrets, criminal libel, rumors of false report, obscene publications and invasion of privacy etc. The draft constitution by the committee of experts explains that “as things stands now, there is a direct governmental interference in or control of the operations of the press.
The ministerial power of appointment and dismissal of reporters and governmental interference in media operations have greatly contributed to the erosion of the freedom and independence of the press and media in Ghana. – To combat this, and make the journalism operations smooth - the media commission should be independent and must perform the functions now perform by the Ministry of Information to further this most of the workers at the ministry of information are mostly political appointees mostly the rulling parties. Also, owing Ghanaian Corporations, there is a third category which is a corporation managing state owned media but it cannot be lumped together and treated as a corporation set up for commercial purposes. some stakeholders of this country are being denied access to the public broadcasting against their freedom of expression.
Regulations and laws that kills the interested foreign broadcasters in Ghana by the National Commissions Authority is inimical to journalism, because Ghana is not all that matured in telecommunications and we need foreign ones here, so we can learn or better still, be the best among all, so if they are been prevented to operate by some regulational acts that are strict, it will go against journalism in Ghana.
The legal system is inimical in a way because, the courts Act 1993 (Act 459) was amended by Act 464 to enable a judge of the circuit court to try criminal cases with the same prerogatives, and the effect is that, until its repealed the chief justice can empower a Circuit Court Judge by administrative direction to sit on criminal cases as a circuit court judge of old but this old system was a failure. Man has been said to be imperfect, in the sense that all men are known to be fallible beings, and so sometimes the animal side of man always pop up in our daily routine duties, but the laws of defamation are so crucial and critical that in the discharge of one’s duties as a journalist, he might be victimize by an unintentional comment or phrase of impunity, or it might even discourage the journalism work. In the case of the sedition, the laws of Ghana are somehow restrictive more than that of the west, where much of our know-how and tools with its standards of all originate, and that is as well inimical. Lord Diplock in Gleaves v. Deakin (1979) 2 All ER 497 at 498 said on the issue of criminal libel that “the truth of the defamatory statement is not in itself a defense… on the contrary, even though no public interest can be shown to be injuriously affected by imparting to an individual, the publisher of the information must be convicted unless he himself can prove to the satisfaction of a jury that the publication of it was for the public benefit… and this ruling has ever been considered a great proceedings, so I consider it inimical to we as a journalist.
In the case of .R. Amponsah, there was an issue of a Sri Lanka National who wanted to bribe his way through with the intention of taking over the mineral right in Ghana, and was deported when this was published, there was a problem of rumours and false report, so they accused was charged not only with sedition but also with publishing a false statement likely to cause fear and alarm to the public - and both charges arose from the same speech, he was acquainted on both court, so that also make it inimical.
obeying the law. Even with this, there are court rules that fight against these ethics of the press, by strict insistence on journalistic documents for court verification. This is also inimical to my pursuit in communication.
The law of confidence states that the man shall not profit from wrongful publication of information received by him in confidence. It is a product of equity or equality. The official secrets act since the spy catcher case, act 1989 makes it an offence for a member of the security and intelligence services or a person who has been notified that the act applies to him to disclose information by virtue of his membership of the said service, but it’s the public’s interest that must be protected here and not the service, because, sometimes it is in the public interest that people should be left alone or that certain secrets are kept away from the general public in the interest of the general public safety.
The others which include states secrets act (act 101), the criminal code, act 29 on obscene publications and invasion of privacy are as well inimical to the profession of communication or journalism in Ghana. In conclusion I think both the government and the profession work for public interest so that is what should be. Thank God the information law bill has just passed through cabinet and it is my hope that this very law will open doors for gathering information for the dissemination of the public.