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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The two Insight journalists have not broken any law – Sam Okudzeto

Sam Okudzeto, past president of the Ghana Bar Association
Sam Okudzeto, past president of the Ghana Bar Association
Renowned lawyer and past president of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr Sam Okudzeto has said a reporter of The Insight newspaper allegedly abducted Monday at the Adjiringano residence of former president Jerry Rawlings for taking pictures of the premises has not broken any law by doing so.

Two journalists, Mohammed Dauda, a cameraman and Duke Tagoe, a reporter from the Accra-based newspaper allegedly were accosted by security personnel when they tried taking pictures of the residence leading to the alleged abduction of one, Mohammed Dauda.

Speaking on an Accra-based radio station, Citi FM Monday, the renowned lawyer said there is no law in Ghana that describes any person’s house as a security zone and that such a place can only exist if only it is described (eg. by a sign) as a National Security zone.

He added that not even houses of former presidents can be described as such and that when they become past presidents, they become ordinary citizens only that we accord them respect. He noted that former presidents are given security to protect their person and that does not make their area a security zone.

He said since they did not enter the house, which will require permission from the owner; they have not breached any law.

“...you can only enter somebody’s private residence by virtue of the permission of the individual but outside, you have every right to pass there. Many of us go around, we see beautiful houses and we take photographs because we admire the house; that does not make it a crime.”

“I have been in Washington DC and photographed the White House and there are a lot of tourists who are all around the White House and they take photographs and nobody ever comes around to stop anyone from taking photographs of the White House...The president of the United States is actually resident in the White House and nevertheless people photograph the building.”

“You cannot go inside the White House unless you get permission to go there...you cannot even enter my house unless I permit you to come into the house.”

Sam Okudzeto made it known that if the two reporters had entered Rawlings' house without permission, it would amount to trespassing which is a civil offence, not a criminal offence, adding that if people are chased by unknown assailants other than the police, captured and whisked away, it amounts to abduction.

The renowned lawyer concluded that it was rather unfortunate that National Security have assumed powers they don’t have and the criminal code gives a person the right to know the reason why they are being arrested and what offence they have committed.

Story by Ernest Dela Aglanu/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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