Chief Legal Advisor at the National Security Council Secretariat, Dickson Osei Bonsu, has provided clarity on the issue of whether or not the public can film military/police brutalities and be allowed to go scot-free.
Since the lockdown took effect, there have been some reports of security personnel either stopping civilians from filming one form of incidence or the other.
However, addressing the issue on last Thursday’s, Good Evening Ghana show which was monitored by ABC News, Osei Bonsu Dickson explained that though no law bars people from recording or filming, people who do so must be circumspect with what they do with the content.
He told host, Paul Adom Otchere, “We don’t have legislation that says don’t film” but cautioned that, “As a general rule filming security targets, there are restrictions on these. If you look at, for example, Act 101, our State Secrets Act there are lots of restrictions on places and things that one can’t. Even among soldiers, filming themselves or taking pictures of themselves, by their own statutes, are prohibited from doing so one has to be very circumspect about what one is doing.”
When asked if it was possible to control or regulate the film or picture-taking situation, the Chief Legal Advisor at the National Security Secretariat stated, “Is that possible? Is that possible? I think that it will be impossible to do. In this day of our lives, cameras, whether they be CCTV cameras, phone cameras or they, are in the nature of Ipads and so on and so forth are part of our lives so how are we going to control that.”
What constituted the problem for the security institutions, he observed, was the penchant for people to put out false, misleading, misrepresentative information with mischievous intent.
Citing an example, he referred to videos with voice-overs as in most cases being doctored to create fear and panic and mislead the public, a development he observed didn’t serve the best interest of the nation or the security apparatus.
“It is not the issue of the filming per se or sharing per se. You have videos that are coming out that are misrepresentative of the original video. Somebody has a video of another person he does a voice-over or obtains a video in another jurisdiction, in another country and then runs a voice over on it and then deceives the unsuspecting public. Because of the immediacy of issues that are happening, limitations that are imposed, it is clear people are interested. They hear troops are going to x area or y areas, people are interested, somebody runs a commentary over it, people believe it. It’s those types of misleading videos that are being shared around that complicates the operations and creates problems not only for us but for Ghanaians,” he emphasised.
He said the state will not renege in identifying, locating and prosecuting those found culpable of spreading such fake and distorted information.
“We are interested in the contents of these videos, so we can evaluate them to see the kind of impact that they could have on operations going forward.”
“We are a country of laws, we are not a lawless country. There are rules governing every conduct in this country,” he added.
A joint military, police force has been put together to enforce the lockdown imposed by the President for the next two weeks.
This is to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and intensify surveillance and testing.
Ghana has about 205 cases confirmed, 49 cases recovered and at the last stage of treatment at home and 5 deaths.