Story: News Desk
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), has said that the fines imposed on the New Patriotic Party (NPP) thugs who invaded UTV studios two weeks ago are not enough to deter others from committing the same crime.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the President of GJA, Albert Dwumfuor said they believed the thugs were handed the GHS2,400 fine because the police did not impose much stricter charges on the culprits.
He stated that the charges of conspiracy to commit crime and rioting were inadequate, soft-handed and minimalistic.
Mr Dwumfour listed charges the GJA believed should have been investigated and imposed including unlawful entry, rioting with weapons, assault and battery, causing harm, unlawful assembly, offensive conduct conducive to breach of peace, forcible entry and threat of harm.
“We acknowledge that the judge has the discretion of either imposing a custody sentence or a fine, which is also a form of punishment under our criminal correspondence, which may have informed the magistrate to opt for the imposition of a fine.”
“It is our view that the option of a fine imposed is not deterrent enough. That may largely be due to the fact that the charges preferred by the police were not thorough enough. We believe if all the offenses mentioned above had been investigated and preferred against the thugs, stiffer punishments would have been imposed on them than the fine of 200 penalty units each,” the GJA President added.
This comes after two separate attacks on the media recently, an invasion of UTV by New Patriotic Party thugs, and the assault of a CITI FM reporter by some thugs of the opposition National Democratic Congress.
The thugs who attacked UTV were charged with conspiracy to commit crime and rioting. They pleaded guilty to the charges.
An Achimota Magistrate Court, on Monday, convicted and fined them 200 penalty units each – which translates to GH¢2,400 each.
Mr Dwumfour acknowledged the Ghana police for their swift arrest, and prosecution of the suspects and also the courts for their swift hearing and sentencing.
However, he appealed to the institutions to consider attacks against the media as aggravating offences, especially in cases when such attacks are premeditated.
The GJA President explained that when actions against media are premeditated, “it has the tendency to put fear in the media leading to self-censorship and thus promoting the culture of silence which is inimical to the concept of media freedom and independence as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.”
“We appeal to the judiciary to consider offences against the media as aggravating offences,” he said.