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Government announces withdrawal of Ministry of Information directive for foreign journalists

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 9 April 2009, the government of Ghana announced the withdrawal of a directive it had issued on 16 March requiring foreign journalists and media outlets to seek clearance and official guides from the Ministry of Information before covering any event or issue in the country, and to submit copies of their material before publishing it.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that the withdrawal of the directive followed a public outcry over its rules which, if enforced, would effectively censor foreign journalists working in Ghana and undermine the freedom of expression enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

Speaking on Joy FM, an Accra-based independent radio station, Zita Okaikoi, Ghana's minister of information, said the directive was meant to screen films and documentaries on Ghana before they were taken out of the country. She said the directive was already a policy at the ministry but upon further deliberations, it was suspended on 26 March.

The directive became a public issue following its publication and the minister of information's order asking the relevant government agencies to enforce it.

Parts of the directive stated: "Henceforth, all film crews that visit the country to produce documentary films will be accompanied by officials of the video production section of the department to ensure that they operate within the laid down regulations for filming in the country."

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