The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has advised journalists reporting on court issues to strives to always abide by the tenets of accuracy, fairness and objectivity in their reportages.
According to him, the inauguration of the Judicial Press Corps by the Judiciary is a recognition that the press is indispensible in to matters relating to the rule of law, good governance and the administration of justice in the country.
That recognition, he noted comes with responsibilities which essentially relate to the ethics of the profession and they must therefore, ensure that their reportages are accurate and objective to avoid facing the consequences of the law.
“While you have been recognized formally by the Judicial Service, you should also note that there are rules in the game, the rules in the game essentially relate to the ethics of the profession, your report should be accurate, fair and should be objective. Once you have all these standards, the hallmark of good reportage being accuracy, fairness and objectivity, I think that you would have discharged your duties to society as fairly as possible,” he noted.
Mr. Dame said this when he met members of the Judicial Press Corps for the first time since its inauguration by the Chief Justice.
He said the work of the JPC should not be taken for granted as they are very critical to justice delivery in the country.
“I would also say that your role is very critical to justice delivery in the country. Many at times, you have brought matters affecting the indigenes, the poor in society to public attention as a result of your reports and these are matters that I take an interest in as Attorney General. I believe in justice for all, I believe in justice for the vulnerable in society and at the same time too, I believe in protecting the interest of government as efficient as possible,” he noted.
He entreated members of the JPC to ensure that the rights of accused persons to fair trial are protected through proper and discreet reportage.
The AG also encouraged them to protect the rights of minors who are standing trial as well as rights of women who are complainants in sexual offences such as rape and defilement in accordance with the law.
Mr. Dame further advised the reporters to note that there are consequences to the failure to abide by the ethics of the profession such as contempt of court to deal with excesses in the media.
“Know that if you do not abide by the ethics of the profession there is a consequence, there is a penalty for it to be paid, the rules of contempt of court are there to deal with the excesses in the media. I would be very reluctant to cite any media practitioner for contempt,” he said.
He continued that “of course, I have been considering to do so in my practice, whether in private practice of public service and definitely in account of deep excesses in reportage. I do not think that such incidents ought to be repeated, you can easily avoid it and the way to avoid is as I said, by being accurate, fair and objective and also being discreet in terms of the matters that you report and in terms of the extent of the reportage.”
He assured that he will be available to help with access to information from any institution of state as he has done in the past even when he was Deputy Attorney General.
Head of the Judicial Press Corps, Wilberforce Asare, assured the AG that members of JPC would take the professional advice and do their work properly in order to avoid any brushes with the law, particularly contempt of court or defamation.