iWatch Africa unveils measures to combat online abuse and harassment of journalists in Ghana

iWatch Africa has unveiled new measures to counter online abuse and harassment of journalists in Ghana as part of its human rights abuse and corruption project.

Online harassment of journalists in Ghana is a phenomenon that has prompted growing concern in recent years. Journalists who report on contested social and political issues increasingly find themselves the target of abuse through social media, online comment fora and other online means, in some cases including violent threats of death and rape.

iWatch Africa’s initiative will focus on four main strategies including; establishment of a news desk track online abuse and harassment of journalists, expose and report identified cases to CHRAJ and the police and finally assist government develop relevant online harassment and abuse policies/regulations.

Project Lead for the initiative, Gideon Sarpong explained that, “risks that online harassment pose to the free flow of information and the democratic exchange of ideas demand an urgent response.”

Gideon Sarpong, iWatch Africa

“Thirty one percent of journalists tone down coverage of certain stories after being harassed. We recently witnessed the murder of Ahmed Suale, but prior to that we all saw how he was abused and threatened within the digital ecosystem. A high number of journalists in the last couple of months have also been consistently threatened, intimidated and abused. iWatch Africa will use all available resources to fight against this phenomenon, “ he stated.

The initiative was unveiled at a training workshop for journalists in the middle belt of Ghana last Saturday in Kumasi and it will continue for the foreseeable future.

The human rights abuse and corruption project is supported by US Embassy in Ghana.

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Gideon Sarpong

Gideon Sarpong is a policy analyst and media practitioner with over eight years of experience in policy, data and investigative journalism. Gideon is currently the Policy and News Director at iWatch Africa. His major role includes developing news strategy for correspondents across Ghana, as well as designing strategic project and policy focus for the organisation. He is an author; a fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Thomson Reuters Foundation, Commonwealth Youth Program ,Free Press Unlimited and Bloomberg Data for Health Initiative. Gideon holds a degree in economics from the University of Cape Coast, a PgD in Fiscal Policy for financing sustainable development from the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, in South Africa and a PgD in Policy Journalism and Media Studies from the University of Zambia. He is the founder and country president of SOA Ghana Hub. Gideon is a Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute, School of Trans-national Governance in Florence.

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