The Chief Justice of the Republic, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, has charged members of the Judicial Press Corps to maintain high standards and propriety as they go about their work of reporting from the courts in Ghana.

Addressing a ceremony in the auditorium of the Law Courts Complex in Accra to inaugurate the Judicial Press Corps officially, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah noted that the work of the judiciary and the position it occupies in the constitutional architecture require that information about the workings of the bench be accurate and handled with the utmost care so as not to deceive the public.

“When information which is not true about pending cases is spread about the judiciary, it undermines trust in our work and eats away at the very foundations of our republic,” he said.

“We do not … have any power or option of interfering with media freedoms. Ghana must and will remain a bastion of freedom of speech.

“However, we must urgently address issues of standards and propriety in relation to court reporting, else we leave ourselves vulnerable to misinformation that will mislead the citizenry,” the Chief Justice said.

The Chief Justice and the Judicial Secretary, Justice Cynthia Addo (seventh and sixth from the right), with the new Judicial Press Corps

Optimism / matrimonial causes

In his address, the Chief Justice expressed optimism in the Judicial Press Corps’s ability to report accurately on matters concerning the judiciary, as the team is composed of very well-trained journalists.

He however urged the press corps not to report on cases involving marriage and divorce, given their sensitive nature.

“Members of the corps, I am happy to note, have received expert training and guidance from some very experienced justices and officers of the court,” he said.

“With such excellent training, I have no doubt at all that they are all ready to perform and do so extremely well. Matters relating to pending matrimonial causes should not be a subject of publication,” Chief Justice Anin Yeboah urged.

Reference handbook for journalists

Turning to the journalists’ handbook that was launched during the inauguration of the Judicial Press Corps, the Chief Justice said he was extremely happy to see its publication.

“This book must, and I hope will be, the basic book for court reporters and, indeed, all journalists whose work brings them into contact with the courts,” the Chief Justice said.

“With these two innovations [the handbook and the creation of the specialist corps], it is my hope that we are entering a new era of co-operation and partnership between the media and the judiciary. Indeed, I believe that our democracy requires the press and the judiciary to work together.

“We must focus on efforts to build trust between us, so we can build confidence in our institutions from the general public. Let today be the day we take the first, decisive steps towards this new era,” Chief Justice Anin Yeboah said.

National Media Commission

In brief remarks, the chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo, observed that misleading reports from the courts have the power to cause grave social and political instability.

He said such inaccurate reportage is an embarrassment to journalists and the judiciary alike, and argued that everything must be done to stop it.

Of the handbook for court reporting, the NMC chairman said the Commission will take a critical look at it and propose amendments to the text if need be.

He expressed pleasure that the judiciary has developed the handbook to serve as a guide to the media in Ghana.

GJA president

Affail Monney, the president of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), bemoaned recent attacks on journalists at the courts while they were going about their duties.

He expressed the hope that the formal recognition a judicial press corps will lead to better protection for journalists who work at the courts.

“The minimalist response we expect is to intensify security at the courts to stop such attacks and punish perpetrators,” Monney declared.

Participation

Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, a justice of the Supreme Court, performed the swearing-in of the members of the inaugural press corps and Justice Dennis Adjei, a justice of the Court of Appeal, launched and briefed the corps on Reporting from the Court: The Handbook for Journalists.

Justice Dennis Adjei launches “Reporting from the Court: Handbook for Journalists”

Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were Justice Emmanuel Yoni Kulendi, also a justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, a justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Aboagye Tandoh, a justice of the high court, and Justice Charles Edward Ekow Baiden, also a justice of the high court.

First members

The initial 27-member Judicial Press Corps has the following members: Joyce Danso, Ghana News Agency (GNA); Wilberforce Aboagye Asare, Asaase Radio; Emmanuel Ebo HawksonDaily GraphicJustice AgbenorsiDaily GraphicBarbara Abena Kumah, GTV; Yvonne Asare Offei, GBC Radio; Naomi Komeh, GBC Radio; Selorm Amenyah, TV3; Malik SullemanaGhanaian TimesCastro Zanzina-TongGhanaian TimesFred Tettey Djabanor, Citi TV/FM; Sixtus Dong Ullo, Citi TV/FM; and Anku Morkporkpor, GNA.

The other members are Ama Brako Ampofo, Angel TV/FM; Murtala K Inusah, GHOne TV/Starr FM; Gibril Abdul RazakDaily GuideGifty Amofa, GNA; Joseph Ackah-Blay, Joy FM/Joy News; Kwaku Asante, Joy FM/Joy News; Elvis Andoh, Metro TV; Bernice BesseyThe ChronicleSeth Kwame Boateng, Multimedia; Bernard Ato Arthur, UTV/Peace FM; Daakyehene Ofosu Agyeman, Power FM/XYZ TV; Jeffery Attipoe of TV3; Mary Anane-Amponsah of the Daily Graphic; and Amos Kwofie of Adom TV / FM.

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