Address delivered by His Lordship Justice Yonny Kulendi at the launch of the Journalists support fund

The Chairman, Prof Samuel Ato Duncan, President General of the Centre for Awareness,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, may I, in the interest of saving time, stand in all protocols.

In 2013, two French journalists were killed in Mali in the line of duty. This killing raised major concerns around the world, and later in the same year, the United Nations (UN) adopted a Resolution at its 68th Session to declare November 2 as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists’. Since then, the global community, particularly the media fraternity, have commemorated the Day to draw the world’s attention to the need to end the impunity for crimes against journalists. I am happy to join the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and its partners to mark this significant occasion.

Prof Chairman, my delight in joining you here today to commemorate this important occasion does not flow from the honour of delivering the Keynote Address; neither does it stem from my long years of human and media rights activism. Indeed, my delight in being at this function today springs from the commendable initiative embarked upon by the leadership of the GJA to give one practical meaning to the occasion. That worthy initiative is the launch of the ‘Journalists Support Fund‘.
As we all know the media plays a critical role in the promotion of democracy, good governance, transparency, probity, accountability and ultimately, the development of every country. Journalists and media practitioners make a lot of sacrifices and take unimaginable risks to inform, educate and even entertain society in ways that are crucial to wellbeing and common good of society. The most critical of these roles is the constitutional imperative to hold the men/women and institutions of power to the requirements of transparency, probity and accountability.

It is generally in this line of responsibility as the Fourth Estate of the Realm that our journalists and media men and women face the most risk at the hands the men and women of power and their agents and beneficiaries who their activities seek to hold accountable to the sovereign, the Ghanaian people and the constitution. Understandably, the men and women of power, their agents and collaborators tend to deploy some of the very people that any professional journalist is oath bound to serve, and to weaponise and exploited them to perpetuate aggression, violence, abuse, harassment and attacks against journalists and media practitioners. The resulting crimes against these men and women who simply strive to serve and promote the common good through with their pens, microphones, airwaves, critical questions, etc, has been on the rise across the world and regrettably tend to be more preponderant in our part of the world.

Needless to say, crimes, aggression, and violence with impunity against journalists and media practitioners is an offence against the society, the state, humanity and every democracy and freedom loving individual on the phase of the planet. I dare to say it’s an offence against God.

This is why there is the need for a concerted effort, such as this, among others, to address and hopefully substantially mitigate and eventually end such impunity.
Prof Chairman, I must commend the President and National Executive of the GJA and their sponsors for the initiative to establish the ‘Journalists Support Fund’ with the aim of lending support to journalists and media practitioners who become victims and regrettably some have paid the highest price in the line of duty. The idea of using the fund to pursue legal actions for journalists who may fall victim to such unjustifiable violence is very laudable. It is a good and worthy cause that I implore the public to support. I will be remiss not to acknowledge and commend the partners of the GJA in this effort and in particular, the example of the Ghana Police Service.

Prof Chairman, in furtherance of this effort, Im inclined to postulate a theisis for our consideration. I hold the humble view that the impunity that is engulfing us is a reflection of an insidious degeneration in VALUES, ETHICS, DISCIPLINE and increasing CONTEMPT for institutions, authority, due process and the RULE of LAW. This cultural deterioration, is a big part my of the structural causes of violence and impunity against the media and practitioners.

If we commit to a stand against corruption, promote respect for our institutions, promote respect for law and order ( the police and related security agencies), uphold and defend ethics in every area of our endeavour, promote respect for the Courts and their service however imperfect, a resolute zero tolerance for violence as a way to resolve disagreements, a zero tolerance for corruption, we will be strengthening the foundation and structure for ensuring that all men and women in service, including our hard working and dedicated journalists and media practitioners can serve our country and humanity with their skills, hearts and conscience without living in fear of physical violence, verbal violence/condemnation, fear for personal safety, blackmail and the safety of their families, friends and associates.

I call on the President and leadership of the GJA to consider initiatives, such as today’s laudable initiative, to promote a healthy dialogue on these structural matters.

That said May I implore the citizenry, corporate ghana and our development partners to support this appeal for funds by the GJA in order to make the ‘Journalists Support Fund’ a reality and to achieve the purpose for which it is established.
Prof Chairman, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your attention.


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