The leadership of the Parliament of Ghana have maintained that it will continue to partner with journalists to propagate issues of national interest without any interferences.
The comment follows a threat by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye, who warned the media from engaging in other activities during session.
“It is forbidden for the media to go outside the chamber and do some other work other than coming to cover proceedings. You are here as guests. Any such humiliation will make you unwelcomed guests,” Prof Oquaye noted.
However, both the Majority and Minority leaders in a meeting with members of the Parliamentary Press Corps insisted the directive issued by the Speaker to the media was in no way intended to suppress the freedom of the media.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu reiterated that the Speaker’s comment should not be misconstrued but should be considered as an advice.
“I don’t think there will be an attempt by Parliament as an institution to gag the press and therefore don’t misconstrue and don’t misinterpret the directives of the Honourable Speaker to that effect.”
“What he sought to do was advice that while we (Parliament) are in session focus on considering matters within the Chamber and that the various caucaus can hold their presser before or after sitting.”
“This does not tie your hands at all. In the chamber, if any matter is of interest to you, you are free to cover it and we know as journalists you do that.”
The Majority Leader who sparked the whole conversation, Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, said that it was not his intention to ‘harm’ the media insisting he only expected reporters to dutifully discharge their duties to the Chamber.
He further defended the Speaker’s intention stating that it was only a caution to the parliamentary press corps adding that journalists should not conclude the directive as a ruling.
“You are here because you applied to be here and you applied to the speaker. He granted you permission to be here and there are some rules that must be conformed to, so if he believes something untoward is happening and draws your attention to it I don’t think that means he is attempting to gag media houses.”
He further indicated that institutions, including Parliament, are guided by rules and regulations and therefore of the media to adhere to them without any reservation.
“The statement was from a father to his son, and let’s face it there is no democracy that does not have rules. In your own media houses, there are policies.”
Kyei Mensah Bonsu added, “If you go out and maybe the manager of that house calls you with concerns and he tells you that you must conform to the rules, will that be considered an infringement on your right? I am not sure about that.”