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Report human interest stories- Journalists told

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Ghanaian journalists have been advised not to forget their core mandates as agenda setters to report human interests stories particularly on the vulnerable to engender developmental activities.

According to celebrated journalist and a lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, Abdul Hayi Moomen, sensationalism has taken centre stage of the Ghanaian media space which has greatly affected the importance of churning out stories that will help improve the livelihoods of the ordinary Ghanaian.

“We’re the agenda-setters but we’re losing focus. It is time the media takes power back its power to feed its viewers with what it wants to feed them and not what the viewers want to see, read or hear. The viewers must not dictate to the media what it must air on daily basis,” he said on August 26, 2021,

While speaking at a training workshop for a core group of journalists, Mr. Moomen explained that both state and private-owned media houses must prioritise broadcasting human rights-based stories that put people at the heart of the events and raise awareness of worthy causes and help people to realise the real human impact of a whole host of issues.

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“We have given the power to the audience. Instead of complimenting each other as media people, we compete with each other.

“If we have made a pledge to decriminalize poverty in the country, let us report on what is the real news and not what will please politicians” he charged.

The training workshop onDecriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy, was under the auspices of Crime Check Foundation (CCF) and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to strengthen the capacity of Ghanaian journalists in pushing for a social protection system for vagrants.

A total of 15 journalists was selected from three regions, Greater Accra, Ashante and Central take part in the one-day intensive training.

The training aimed at journalists stationed in these regions where vagrancy is high while linking their work to the broader perspective of the goal 16 of the 2030 agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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A vagrant is a person who is homeless with no regular work thereby moving from one place to the other. They usually make a living from begging or hawking on the streets.

As a member state of the United Nations, Ghana is obliged to ensure access to justice for all by 2030.

The SDGs impose a responsibility on all the state and Justice Sector Institutions, the media, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the citizenry to improve justice delivery and human rights for all Ghanaians by the year 2030.

Besides, the continued imprisonments of petty offenders due to their status is a violation of a ruling by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights’ on vagrancy laws on 4th December 2020 which stipulates that imprisonment of vagrants constitutes an abuse of their rights.

Although the participants of the CCF-OSIWA training workshop have produced reports in the past on these human rights issues, there is still a long way to go as very little progress has been made.

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With just nine years to the expiration of this goal, there are many more dozens of poor people who end up in deplorable prisons for petty offences due to their inability to employ the services of a lawyer to represent them or even pay fines.

The training, therefore, has provided them with the basis to be actively involved in advocating for the decriminalisation of vagrancy laws and also tracking the implementation of Assembly bye-laws that seek to improve the livelihood of the citizenry.

It included a round table discussion with resource persons including a legal practitioner, project consultants and seasoned journalists.

The absence of a law that allows community service, means the poor in particular will end up in prison for petty offences; a status quo CCF and OSIWA want lawmakers to change.

The CCF-OSIWA Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy project which started in May 2021 is expected to end in April 2022.

By Sefakor Fekpe|3news.com|Ghana

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