The National Peace Council (NPC) on Friday launched a document on guidelines aimed at helping the media and other stakeholders have better understanding of the phenomenon of hate speech, insightful and indecent expressions.
It also highlights the consequences of such negativity and how to avoid them.
In addition, the guidelines, put together in collaboration with the National Media Commission (NMC), are intended to help improve the capacity of the media in peace building and conflict sensitive journalism while sanitising public discourse.
It further seeks to enhance Ghana’s efforts at consolidating peace, democracy and development.
Launching it in Accra, Deputy Minister of Interior, Madam Naana Eyiah Quansah, said the impact of hate speech cuts across numerous areas of focus, from protecting human rights and preventing violence, to achieving gender equality.
She expressed regret that the Ghanaian media space had been flooded with expressions that bordered on insults, defamation, and indecency.
The internet, especially, social media, she said had been used by some people as channels for the expression of hate speech.
“As citizens, we should be each other’s keeper and condemn statements that suggest hate on our media space.
This responsibility cannot be left only to government and state agencies to control,” she added.
The Deputy Minister commended the NPC for embarking on such an initiative to cut down the rate of hate speech in the country and charged the council to find innovative ways of ensuring the guidelines were observed by the media.
On his part, Chairman of the NPC, Reverend Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, disclosed that Act (818) of the NPC mandated the Council in section two to facilitate and develop mechanisms for conflict prevention, management, resolution and build sustainable peace in the country.
Explaining, he said the Act also mandated the council to increase awareness on the use of non-violent strategies to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts.
He said it was in this light that his outfit in partnership with the NMC, came out with the guidelines.
“This is to guide all of us as citizens, officials of various institutions and political actors in the performance of our duties and engagements with each other, particularly in the media space. It is to help us act in a responsible manner to promote tolerance, inclusion, and respect for each other,” he added.
According to him, the role of the media could not be ignored in this process, since they provided the public access to information, created awareness and facilitated public debate and discussions that must be carried out with strict adherence to professionalism and ethical standards.
Deputy Executive Secretary of the NMC, Mr Alexander Bannerman, assured of his outfit’s readiness to support all initiatives geared towards sanitising the media landscape.
He also thanked the Danish Embassy in Ghana for supporting the initiative.
Representative of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Michael Mawugbe, said the GJA was glad to associate itself with the NPC’s move at reducing indecent content in the media space, adding that without peace development could not be assured.