Yesterday, the Ghana Police Service arrested, cautioned and granted bail to the Media General’s Captain Smart. The police said the journalist made “unsavoury pronouncements that hinge on peace and security”.
The police have based their arrest on a specific offence in Section 207 of the Criminal and other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
Media General has released a press statement and said it “believes that the statement made by Captain Smart should not be one that should be interpreted in the manner the police did and also to add that we are increasingly concerned about the new trend of arrest of journalists and media practitioners.”
The media house said “a careful review of the entire statement made by Captain Smart would reveal that it did not amount to threats to the peace and stability of the country as claimed by the police.”
It went on to talk about the deteriorating environment for free speech and media freedom in Ghana.
Article 162 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees freedom of the media. Article 162 (4) states: “Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by Government, nor shall they be penalized or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications.”
Article 164 of the Constitution is, however, titled LIMITATION ON RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS [of the media].
It states: “The provisions of articles 162 and 163 of this Constitution are subject to laws that are reasonably required in the interest of national security, public order, public morality and for the purpose of protecting the reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons.”
Article 164 basically says media freedoms are not absolute.
So, what did Captain Smart say?
He said: “I don’t support a coup d’état, but I support an uprising. Where we are, we require an uprising! Listen, where we are, we require an uprising with a positive defiance! You, the soldiers of Ghana, are even surprising me. You were able to go to parliament during the swearing-in of parliament, but when the MPs are fooling, you can’t go to parliament?
Some people are supporting Captain Smart and Media General. Others, too, think he has crossed the line sanity for free speech and should be called to order.