Civil Society Organization, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) and the umbrella body of private newspaper publishers has condemned the Rambo style arrest of the Editor-In-Chief of Whatsup News by the Police saying the action is an attack on free speech.
In a statement copied to the Chief Justice, the Inspector General of Police and the Ghana Journalists Association, Mensah Thompson, Executive Director of ASEPA, said the arrest was unlawful and a misuse of the powers of the Police.
“First of all, except Mr.Tamakloe has been involved in any criminal activity or the said publication is of criminal consequences, the Court has no business issuing a warrant for his arrest. Anyone who feel libeled by the publication should bring a proper action against him in Court instead,” ASEPA said
“It is the responsibility of the Police to investigate crimes and how they investigate it and come out with fact is their full responsibility, that’s what the State pays them for. Unless they have concrete evidence that someone is involved in the crime, you cannot drag him to compulsorily assist you in investigating a matter let alone a matter of libelous consequences. Therefore the arrest of Mr. Tamakloe is a brutish attempt by the Police and the State to criminalize speech,” ASEPA:
The statement continued, “This is unacceptable and a huge affront to Press Freedom and its related rights and freedoms and we condemn it in no uncertain terms.”
In a statement issued and signed by the President of PRINPAG, Andrew Edwin Arthur in Accra today, he was shocked at the arrest and detention of Mr Tamakloe, who is also the Managing Editor of Whatsup News, an online newspaper.
“PRINPAG is of the view that, the arrest and detention of its Vice President infringed his constitutional right as a Journalist, who by his profession, has the mandate and the duty to bring the concerns of all segments of the population to the attention of the powers that be, for redress.
We are also of the opinion that such complaints against journalists could best be handled by the National Media Commission (NMC), which has a complaints and settlement mechanism that could have been resorted to by the complainant and the police as well to help address the issues at stake”, Mr Arthur said.
Mr. David Tamakloe was waylaid around his office by two Police officers who arrested him on the authority of a bench warrant from a court in New Edubiase.
Upon his arrest, the officers handcuffed him as if he was a criminal and sped him off to the Tesano Police station, before proceeding with him to New Edubiase.
His crime was that Whatsup News had published a news conference story by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which detailed the ethnocentric hounding of Northerners and Ewes in New Edubiase.
Mr. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Director of Elections for the NDC, had detailed how EEwes and Northerners had been told by natives who are also NPP members and supporters to leave New Edubiase during the recent voter registration exercise.
According to the revelation, the people of the Ewe and other Northern ethnic minorities had been ordered to return to their towns and register there and that they were not welcome to register in New Edubiase.
“We Civil Organisations shall not accept the State usurping it’s powers to the detriment of the rights and freedoms of journalists in this country,” ASEPA wrote.
The statement was also copied to the National Media Commission and the Private Newspapers Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG).
Meanwhile, Mr. Tamakloe has since been released on bail and is to reappear in court on 22nd of October.