Manasseh Fights Speaker Of Parliament Over Threat To Punish Journalists

Speaker to ban journalists from Parliament
Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye

Freelance journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni has told the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye that he has no power to punish members of the parliamentary press corps in relation to the discharge of their duties.

Manasseh avers that the Speaker has no business telling the journalists what to cover and what not to cover.

According to him, journalists are free to cover whatever they deem appropriate and cannot be directed in that regard when it comes to the discharge of their duties in the house.

The Speaker of Parliament can forbid MPs from addressing press conferences while parliamentary proceedings are ongoing. However, he has no power to stop or punish the journalists who cover such press conferences or interview MPs outside the chamber while parliament is in session. The journalists don’t work for him. He has no business telling them what to cover or when to do that. If a journalist chooses to ignore proceedings and linger outside the chamber for scoops from MPs, that’s not the speaker’s business. The parliamentary correspondent is answerable to his or editor, not the speaker. If the the journalist causes nuisance in the chamber or publishes falsehood about parliament, the speaker may call them to order, and if they fail to reform, parliament may revoke their accreditation. But once they’re not doing anything wrong, they should be allowed to do their job. Even if they choose to report on MPs who are always at the cafeteria chatting while proceedings are ongoing, the speaker cannot and must not stop them.

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, on February 26, 2020, threatened to ban parliamentary press corps members who cover press conferences by legislators while parliament was in session.

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The statement later generated misgivings forcing parliament to backtrack on the decision with a clarification that the Speaker was rather concerned about the need for the press corps to focus on parliamentary proceedings in the chamber and not side meetings.

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