Journalists who cover proceedings in the country’s Parliament are threatening an indefinite boycott of activities of the House over some new security measures introduced by the Public Affairs Department.
The acting Director of Parliament’s Public Affairs Department, Kate Addo, issued a circular which prevents journalists from accessing MPs’ offices at the Job 600.
Per the new directive, journalists wanting to access Job 600 would have to seek clearance from the Public Affairs Department before being allowed into the building.
But some journalists have described the directive as offensive and unfortunate after efforts by the leadership of the Parliamentary Press Corps to reverse the directive reportedly failed.
After Friday’s proceedings, some journalists insisted that they may be forced to stop covering Parliament.
“It is very unfortunate; we are looking at a public affairs department that is supposed to serve as a link between the members of the parliamentary press corps and Parliament. We are here representing our various media houses, I’m not here working for Parliament and when Parliament Public Affairs makes it difficult for me to do my work then it’s really an issue for us to deal with.”
He lamented that “If you go to the Job 600 security entrance, you are told to get a clearance form from the head of public affairs before you can access that building.”
“I only go there to do interviews, I don’t go there to hassle anybody for anything so I don’t just understand why the Public Affairs should even come out with that statement to frustrate us from doing our job. It is very unfortunate and does not auger well for journalistic practices and it must be withdrawn. We’ve been disrespected for too long and we need to show them that we also have some power that we can exert,” he added.
Another one said “what is Parliament hiding at Job 600?. What is it at the Job 600 that allows any other person apart from Journalists including Press corps members to enter Job 600?”
He noted that they had been told that ID cards would be provided them but that is yet to be done.
“…So if journalists who operate from Parliament haven’t received those ID cards and a fiat has been issued by someone that nobody can enter Job 600 unless that person is given some form of permission; is this not a form of difficulty on our ability to perform?”
Press corps secretary
The Secretary of Parliamentary Press Corps, Stephen Odoi Larbi, said they will meet with the leadership of the department on Tuesday to iron out the issue.
He however noted that such directive “is not targeting members of the Press Corps” but their only problem is that they are yet to receive the ID card.
“The main memo wasn’t targeting members of the Parliamentary Press corps but once the cards have not been issued to us, it means that we also have to submit ourselves through that process. But it’s so frustrating because assuming the acting director of Public Affairs is not in, then who will sign the clearance form?”
Minority raises issue on the floor of Parliament
Meanwhile the rising tension in Parliament over the controversial directive forced Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu on Thursday, to raise the matter on the floor of Parliament, after threats by journalists to boycott a press conference the minority called on the Komenda Sugar Factory.
However, the Speaker of Parliament said “I’m not aware of that. No one has brought that to my attention as the Speaker of this House.”