Abuja, February 16, 2022 — Ghanaian authorities should swiftly identify and hold to account the police officers who attacked journalist Eric Nana Gyetuah, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
At about 1:30 p.m. on February 3, in the western city of Takoradi, a group of at least five police officers in plain clothes attacked Gyetuah, a program producer with the privately owned broadcaster Connect FM, according to reports by Connect FM’s affiliated news website 3news.com and a journalist familiar with the incident who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
Gyetuah photographed the officers while they sat in a restaurant with their guns showing and joined by men in handcuffs; when the officers saw him take photos, one of them approached Gyetuah and demanded he hand over his phone, according to those sources.
When he refused, the officer tried to grab the phone and, together with other officers, began beating Gyetuah all over his body with their fists and guns until his face was covered in blood. The officers dragged Gyetuah to their vehicle, handcuffed him, and brought him to the local police station, where they said he was charged with taking pictures without their consent, the journalist familiar with the situation told CPJ.
At about 5 p.m., Gyetuah was allowed to leave the station after a colleague posted bail by signing a surety for him, according to that journalist and those news reports.
“Authorities in Ghana must ensure that all those responsible for the violent attack on journalist Eric Nana Gyetuah are held to account,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “Ghana’s police should ensure the safety of the press, and that includes holding to account those in their ranks who beat up journalists.”
Gyetuah sustained damage to his right ear and his lips were cut open in the attack, the journalist familiar with the incident said.
He received treatment at a local hospital for his injuries; he has since developed severe headaches and cannot not hear well, according to that journalist and those reports. 3news.com later published an update that Gyetuah had been diagnosed with a perforated ear drum.
On February 7, Ghanaian Inspector-General of Police George Akuffo Dampare called Gyetuah to apologize for the officers’ conduct and promised to investigate the matter, according to the reports by 3news.com.
Dampare also told Gyetuah that the charges against him had been dropped, according to the journalist who spoke with CPJ.
Gyetuah produces Connect FM’s Omanbapa (Good Citizen) morning program, aired on the outlet’s Facebook page, which discusses general interest topics.
CPJ called and messaged Police Director of Public Affairs Kwessi Ofori for comment, but did not receive any reply.