Probe alleged attack on journalists – Alliance for Women in Media Africa demands

Della Russell Ocloo
Della Russel Ocloo

Alliance for Women in Media Africa

The Alliance for Women in Media Africa (AWMA) has condemned the alleged assault meted out to a female reporter of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, and calls for a full and thorough investigation.

Della Russell Ocloo, Tema Regional Correspondent of Graphic Communications, was allegedly attacked by members of the Glorious Wave Church International at Sakumono on Sunday August 4, 2019, and members of the police force.

However, Glorious Wave Church International has issued a press statement refuting claims of the alleged attacks on the female reporter.

According to AWMA’s statement denouncing the dual attack, Ms Russel was reporting on a protest by ‘1000 Women’s March’ against the recent discriminatory comments by the lead pastor of the church, Prophet Badu Kobi.

She was allegedly manhandled by the church members as they demanded she delete footage taken during the service, and threatened with a club with nails attached to it by a member of the church. The police, according to the Statement, also violated Ms Russel denying her access to a lawyer, and pinning her down forcibly in their truck.

The Glorious Wave Church International’s statement claims no such assault took place by Church members, that Ms Russel did not introduce herself as a journalist and blamed global security concerns from what they described as justifiable suspicion.

AWMA is calling on the Inspector General of Police to initiate investigations and call his officers to account. They are also calling on the nation’s media houses to more effectively secure their employees. Such action, says the group, will enable them carry out their work as media practitioners without fear of attack.

AWMA’s statement highlights the escalating numbers of attacks on media practitioners and the inaction by police to thoroughly investigate such attacks. The Group highlighted the protections journalism holds under the law and urged a full and thorough accounting of the alleged incidents.

Read full statement:

AWMA CONDEMNS CHURCH MEMBERS’ ATTACK ON GRAPHIC REPORTER, DENOUNCES POLICE ACTIONS, DEMANDS FULL INVESTIGATION

The Alliance for Women in Media Africa (AWMA) condemns the alleged assault against the Tema Regional correspondent of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, Della Russell Ocloo. Ms. Russell is a member of AWMA. This body of nearly three hundred women in media across the 16 regions of Ghana also condemns the actions of the police. AWMA is calling for investigation, accountability and consequences from these alleged actions.

On Sunday 4th August 2019, Della Russell was allegedly attacked by some agitated members of the Glorious Wave Church. Ms. Russell had gone to report on a protest by the ‘1000 Women’s March’ against the recent ethnocentric comments by the church’s lead pastor, Prophet Badu Kobi.

Ms. Russell was allegedly manhandled by church members, they demanded she delete footage she had taken of the church’s activities, and one member threatened Ms. Russell with a club with nails attached to it. The police were called.

The police allegedly:-
– Forcibly pinned Ms. Russell down in the police car
– Seized her phones when she demanded to know if she was under arrest
– Denied her right to call her lawyer
– The Station Officer demanded Ms. Russell be detained and taken to court the next morning

The Police released Ms. Russell without charges, explanation, apology or further action.

AWMA denounces this reprehensible conduct. It typifies the increasingly dangerous environment within which journalists, especially women, practice their profession.

This is another example of rampant violations against the lawful conduct of media practitioners.

The Alliance for Women in Media Africa (AWMA) responds to these acts as follows:-

• AWMA condemns this act of brutality against Della Russell Ocloo by the church members
• AWMA condemns the actions by the police.
• AWMA demands a full and thorough investigation into the police’s response
• AWMA calls on the IGP to initiate this investigation and call his officers to account
• AWMA calls on the nation’s media houses to secure their employees with appropriate measures to enable them to carry out their work as media practitioners without fear of attack.

The Media, Journalism is a profession. The freedom of the media is protected and guaranteed under chapter 12 of Ghana’s Constitution.
That freedom, guaranteed by law, is increasingly threatened by this violation by citizens and by those whose duty it is to uphold the law and protect citizens.

AWMA issues this statement as a call to action to investigate the Church members behaviour and that of the police.

#AWMAstrongertogether
#JournalismIsNotACrime

Signed,
Shamima Muslim Al-Hassan
Convenor
ALLIANCE for WOMEN in MEDIA AFRICA (AWMA)

NOTE: AWMA is a body of two hundred and eighty women in Ghana working in the Media and Communications.

By: Theresa Adezewa Ayittey

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Joe Bright Nyarko Journalist/Communication Researcher. Environment & Sustainability Advocate. Managing Editor of aptnewsghana.com, a non-profit news portal with bias towards environment and sustainability issues, rural development policies and gender & inequality.