Ghanaians are lashing at the National Security over allegations of torture on editors of Modernghana news portal who were picked up last Thursday. The latest to issue a statement on the subject matter is Hon., Rockson-Nelson E.K. Dafeamekpor, Member of Parliament for South Dayi who classified the arrest and torture as a breach of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984.
According to the Member of Parliament, the National Security could have undertaken their work in a manner that is humane and which respects the rights of these editors who were under its custody. He further reiterates that journalists are living in constant threats and fear, which requires effort from the president who is an acclaimed human rights lawyer in their protection.
Two journalists were picked up by the national security on Thursday 27th June for investigations. According to one of the journalists, Emmanuel Ajafor Abugri, he was tortured by the National Security operatives who held him for investigations without the presence of his lawyer. READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
NEWS OF TORTURE OF MODERNGHANA EDITORS WORRYING
Information in the public domain bothering on the arrest, detention and eventual torture of Editors of an online portal, Modernghana by National Security operatives is worrying and a dent on our image as a democratic nation.
Coming in the wake of our recent drop in the World Press Freedom Index following the gruesome murder of Ahmed Sualey, the threats on the lives of Mr. Manasseh Azure and Anas Aremeyaw Anas, the abuse of a female journalist at the New Patriotic Party (NPP) headquarters by Hajia Fati, among others, one would have thought that government would adopt more humane means in investigating journalists over publications it has reservations over.
It came to light on Thursday of a Rambo-styled arrest of these editors in their office premises over suspicions on their operations by the National Security. It was expected that such an arrest would have been made with a proper warrant that would validate their holding up of these editors for investigations. But, that was not the case. In addition to this abuse, the editors were held at the offices of the National Security beyond the legally allowed time, without any efforts at securing a warrant to continue holding them against their will.
It is not for nothing that the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984 contains as follows:
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
Following from the public accounts which are making the rounds in the media from one of the detainees, Emmanuel Ajafor Abugri to the effect that torture was adopted as a means of obtaining information from him by the National Security operatives, it is clear that Articles 1 & 2 of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984 is in breach.
As a nation that is held high on the continent, and as a bastion of hope in the sphere of democracy, it is unacceptable to wake up to such acts of abuse of the rights of journalists in the manner and form we are witnessing.
At each passing day, journalists are becoming more endangered under a regime they so vehemently ushered into power with the hopes that their rights and freedoms would be guaranteed and protected. What is even more disappointing is the fact that, all these rising abuses and fears, are being experienced by our brothers and sisters in the inky fraternity under a President who affirms himself as a human rights lawyer.
It is important to stress that, the rights of journalists also falls under the jurisdiction of rights that our president acclaims to. It is in his interest to ensure that the accolades assigned him by accident or by deed, are upheld to ensure the safety of our journalists.
So what exactly is National Security saying? That they didn't torture the boy? The appropriate thing was for Hon. Ken Dapaah, Minister for National Security, to have assured the nation of looking into the allegations and to punish those who carried out the barbaric acts, if indeed it happened. He shouldn't just plead the 'general traverse' and end it there. This conduct offends the letter and spirit of our constitution, 1992.
It must be without further emphasis that the fourth estate of the realm, the media, and its practitioners, are expected to operate under safe environments. It is the duty of the government of the day to ensure improved security and safety for journalists whose works exposes them to dangers of society.
Ghanaians, and especially, journalists, expect more from our president. They did not partake in their work in the past to institute his government to superintend over abuses and torture if their lives. It is regrettable that the nation’s security is seen operating with this high levels of impunity.
What is more worrying, coming in the wake of the revelations from the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-elections misconduct by security operatives, the recruitment and population of security services with party thugs, the nation is once again being reminded of the dangers we are plunging this country into if we do not rise to demand the right calibre of persons are recruited into our National Security services.
The government must, as a matter of urgency, act in a manner to restore confidence in the security and safety of journalists in this era of attacks on the innocent lives of people who are simply carrying out their duties in the service of the nation, Ghana.
We cannot sit by and continue to witness abuses on journalists whose works are considered detrimental to the fortunes of the current administration. Democracy does not in any way or form, depict the universal affirmation of the conducts of government even when it flies in the face of what is acceptable by society and by law. Government has a duty to protect the lives of everyone, including those who hold contrary views to the beliefs and conducts of government.