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Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), a civil society organisation, has organised a forum for registered political party communicators on promoting decent and issues-based campaigning for peaceful elections in Ghana.
The forum was part of the MFWA’s Campaign Language Monitoring on Radio to name and shame those who would use hate speech or insults on opponents during radio discussions or in the news bulletin.
The project, which started in April, to December, would study 70 radio stations, both state and private stations across the 10 regions.
Greater Accra has the highest number of 20, followed by Ashanti, 10; Brong Ahafo, seven; Northern, six Eastern, four; Western, four; Volta, four; Central, two; Upper East, two; and Upper West, one.
Political parties represented include the National Democratic Congress (NDC); New Patriotic party (NPP); Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP); Peoples’ National Convention (PNC); National Democratic Party (NDP); Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP); Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP); All Peoples’ Congress (APC); United Front Party (UFP); EGLE Party, and Independent Peoples’ Party (IPP).
Mr Sulemana Braimah, the Executive Director of MFWA, said since the project was started in 2012, the level of hate speech had dropped drastically, indicating that people are now aware that they are being monitored.
He said the project recruited 70 graduates to assist in the monitoring exercise and they are to report on daily basis to a team constituted by the Foundation to analyse to either accept the reports or reject them.
“If members of the team are in doubt it will invite the monitor for interrogation and if still in doubt they will call for the recorded voice for validation,” he added.
Mr Braimah said similar forum would be held in Kumasi, Ho and in the North and urged all political parties to cooperate with them when the time comes.
“Similarly, we will hold forum for all the presenters of the 70 radio stations for them to be aware of the project,” he said.
Mr Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), expressed the need for people to differentiate between hate speech and free speech and work hard to ensure that they do not allow free speech to lead to hate speech.
He said hate speech is to demonise other persons or make it easier for those persons to suffer even death.
“When you use words hatefully against people, the end result is violence,” he added.
He noted that in other countries there are laws to counter hate speech but in Ghana there is no such law yet.
“If it becomes necessary and our Parliament feels to enact a law in that direction, they should be encouraged to do so,” he said and commended the MFWA for initiating the project.
Mr Gyan-Apenteng announced that the NMC had set up National Media Advisory Committee in Northern, Upper West, Volta and Ashanti regions to monitor media reports and they would soon cover the rest of the regions.
He, therefore, urged political parties to feel free to come to the NMC when they have an issue.
Professor Kwame Karikari, Lecturer at School of Communications, University of Ghana, Legon said the foundation is a civil society organisation and has all these years stood for freedom of expression and would not recommend that people’s freedom of expression should be taken away as some people are suggesting.
He said the project is a public intellectual activities, which in other countries are being done by intellectuals and research institutions.
Mr James Asante, NDC Communication Director, said the NDC believes in free media, free expression and everything that would develop and nurture Ghana’s democracy and commended the foundation for the initiatives.
“NDC is committed to the core principles of democracy,” he said and called on other political parties and political communicators to do same to build better Ghana.
Other political parties representatives also pledged their parties’ commitment to ensure peaceful elections come December seven general elections.
Mr Gyan-Apenteng later launched the Elections Communication Guide published by the MFWA.