Supreme Court Ruling on Ken Kuranchie and Stephen Atubiga: I’m confused!

This is a BloggingGhana universal post on the issue of this month: Free Speech.

 

As I was driving home listening to City FM, the question was raised: Is This The Day When Freedom of Speech Died in Ghana? The case of Ken Kuranchie and Stephen Atubiga before the Supreme Court for making “prejudicial comments about the on-going election petition case” (from my understanding not in the court room but in media) and their sentences of 10 and 3 days in prison respectively offset this uncomfortable debate.

In addition to sentencing Kuranchie, a journalist, and Atubiga a politician of the ruling NDC, the Supreme Court issued a warning:

 

 “any person be it in the media or not who crosses the final touchline on proper coverage and reportage on our court proceedings will be met with the appropriate response from this court.”

 

Now what do we make of all this? Also, exactly what was said, where? (I cannot seem to find the comments that were sentenced today, maybe reproducing them is now a crime?) Did the comments really undermine the supreme court? If so, is 3 or 10 days a harsh enough punishment?

 

And does it mean we should all not comment on the election case publicly? This evening the discussion has been hot on social media, mailing lists and the like and think I agree with a friend who said if we stop discussing the supreme court proceedings and rulings “are we not all admitting that freedom of speech has died?” Other friends, talked about how with the right to free speech comes a heavy responsibility, one quoted this Editorial in the leading newspaper the Daily Graphic on that press freedom is never fixed, but rather, in the words of a British lawyer: “what is left after the law had its say”.

 

I am confused! All this confusion, I believe, take away from the MAIN ISSUE AT HAND: Was the National Electoral Commission right to declare NDC winners in the election with 50,7% of the votes in the 2012 election?  

 

Last week was PACs letter to RLG. This week, I have been reminded of the responsibilities that come with pressing “publish” on my blog. What is coming next week?

6 Replies to “Supreme Court Ruling on Ken Kuranchie and Stephen Atubiga: I’m confused!”

  1. Most journalists/social commentators comment on issues that they do not really understand. In the case of Atubiga he used words to describe even the fact that the decision of the Supreme court will not be respected. In the case of Ken his choice of words i.e selective and hypocritical, loose talkers was an indictment on the integrity of the judges and their unwillingness to accept the verdict if it did not go their way.

    I think social commentators/journalists should restrict themselves to the descriptives and leave out the analysis. The focus of reportage should not be on the lawyers or judges but on content.

    As the judges stress and as stated in your article, PROPER COVERAGE and REPORTAGE is needed.

    This is not a gag on free speech, it is the stifling of loose talkers and irresponsible journalism.

  2. Do not be confused…the rules of court proceedings are clear and the restriction of discussion on a case in court is for specific reasons. Such discussions can lead one to make pre-judicial comments. The challenge is that many people are not aware of rules surrounding court proceedings.unlike the public platform the courts do not tolerate language that seems to question the integrity of the court. The judges are not referred to as ‘Lords’ for no reason. everybody (not only journalist) need to educate themselves on court procedures

  3. my understanding of free speech is that one is not prevented from making a speech. just that. It cannot mean one must fail responsibility.

  4. The less I add the better. The SC in my candid opinion did the right thing. It’s time people stop abusing “freedom of speech”. We all make comments, we all disagree with some matters and proceedings, we all have our differences, but we have to express our opinions in a manner which wouldn’t ignite indecency in our media.

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