Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obama's Ghana Visit

The day President and Mrs Obama arrived in Ghana on 9 July, two journalists were attacked. Here is the report:

(Media Foundation for West Africa/IFEX) - On the night of 9 July 2009, Cyrus Degraft-Johnson and Alhassan Suhuyini, journalists with two Accra-based radio stations, were assaulted by security personnel working for the city authority, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that the incident occurred at about 9:30 p.m. (local time) in Shiashi, a suburb in the eastern part of Accra, where Degraft-Johnson, a reporter for Joy FM, had gone to cover an ongoing demolition exercise by a team of AMA guards and police officers to rid the city of illegal structures.

Degraft-Johnson told the correspondent: "I was reporting live to the station when the guards pounced on me and accused me of bringing the exercise to the public's attention so that they would disrupt it."

Degraft-Johnson said the guards seized his equipment, including his cellular phone, as well as his wallet containing a number of identity cards and approximately 50 Ghana cedis (approx. US$73). He also said that he was surprised by the attitude of the police who looked on: "One of them even pushed me around," he added.

Rowland Acquah Stevens, news editor of Radio Gold, told MFWA that Suhuyini witnessed the incident and began filing a live report to the station. When the AMA guards saw him reporting, they also started attacking him. "They slapped him and held his neck before seizing his cellular phone," Stevens said. Suhuyini was treated and later discharged from the hospital.

There has been high-level official condemnation of the attack on the journalists. On 11 July, Ghana's President, John Evans Atta-Mills, personally offered apologies to the journalists and ordered the mayor of Accra to investigate the matter and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Meanwhile, the mayor returned Degraft-Johnson's equipment to him.

For more information:
Media Foundation for West Africa
PO Box LG 73030 Duade Street, Kokomlemle
Legon, Accra
Ghanaalerts (@)
Phone: +233 21 242470
Fax: +233 21 221084

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