A three-day training programme for Judges on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists has begun in Ho on Monday, June 20, 2022 at the Volta Serene Hotel.

The training, which is being organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with the Judicial Training Institute seeks to strengthen the role of the Judiciary in protecting freedom of expression and safety of journalists.

The Hon. Volta Regional Minister, Dr. Archibald Yao Letsa, participated in the Opening Ceremony of the training and delivered the Welcome Address. While welcoming the judges who included Court of Appeal, High Court and Circuit Court Judges to the Volta Region, he acknowledged their important role in safeguarding Freedom of Expression and safety of journalist in the democratic consolidation of the country. He wished the Judges a fruitful stay in the Region.

In his address, the Hon. Minister of Information, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah emphasised the importance of collaboration among media stakeholders in order to build a more robust ecosystem that ensures infringements on the safety of journalists are kept to the barest minimum, if not completely eradicated from Ghana’s democracy.

He stated that while the National Media Commission (NMC) started well and successfully used its mechanism to resolve some of the early reports of infringements, financial support for the NMC to effectively execute the mechanism had not been encouraged.

He indicated that the State, development partners, civil society organizations and the private sector have all underinvested in assisting the NMC in enforcing the mechanism. He, however, commended people who raised their voices in response to reports of infringements and urged everyone to see the intervention aimed at reducing these infringements as a priority that should be funded for effective execution.

Country Director of UNESCO, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo stated in his address that fostering freedom of expression is essential for the respect of the rule of law and human rights, which is critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16 of “promoting just, peaceful, and inclusive societies for all.”

He articulated that by reinforcing the judiciary’s knowledge and capacities, it would contribute to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which was adopted by the UN Chief Executives Board in 2012 and recognised by the UN General Assembly in 2013.

According to Mr. Diallo, UNESCO has a global mandate to protect the free flow of ideas through word, image and acts worldwide to advance these fundamental freedoms and ensure that obligations are met and rights exercised.

For his part, Justice Dennis Adjei of the Court of Appeal, who represented the Chief Justice, mentioned that the core function of the Judicial Training Institute is to build Judges’ capacity in the dispensation of justice and protection of Human Rights and Freedoms.

 He, therefore, expressed gratitude to UNESCO for organising the training and hoped that more collaborative programmes would be organised in subsequent years for the participation of more judges.