Victor Kwawukume was attacked by police while covering a raid. (Victor Kwawukume)
Victor Kwawukume was attacked by police while covering a raid. (Victor Kwawukume)

In Ghana, police assault journalist, seize his equipment

Abuja, June 15, 2012–Authorities in Ghana must investigate the assault on a journalist by police while covering a police raid in Ho, the capital of Ghana’s Volta region, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Victor Kwawukume, who reports for the state-owned Daily Graphic and is the regional chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association, was attacked by four unidentified police officers on June 10 as he covered a raid in Ho in which police arrested suspected criminals and drug peddlers, according to news reports. Kwawukume said he verbally identified himself as a journalist, but the officers attacked him, violently hitting him on the head and seizing his camera, the reports said.

Kwawukume told CPJ that the police beat him with their fists. He also said his camera was returned to him after he was forced to delete the pictures he had taken.

“We condemn the police’s brutality on Victor Kwawukume and the seizure of his camera as he was doing his job,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita from New York. “We call on Ghanaian authorities to take swift action to hold the officers to account.”

Cephas Arthur, a police spokesman, told CPJ he did not have details of the incident, but Yakubu Hamza, a commanding officer at the police department, told CPJ they had received a formal complaint but would not comment because it was an ongoing investigation. Ghana’s information minister, Fritz Baffour, told CPJ that the government would be launching an investigation.

The Volta regional branch of the Ghana Journalists Association has petitioned the Regional Security Council, which includes representatives of the military and police, among other security agencies, to look into the case. Kwawukume told CPJ that the Association said that if the perpetrators were not brought to justice in two weeks, it would stop reporting on all police activities in the region.