Gov’t, police must stay out of regulating free speech- Kwaku Azar

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Gov’t, police must stay out of regulating free speech- Kwaku Azar

A Ghanaian based US professor says government and its allied institutions of state must stay away from regulating free speech. Prof Kwaku Asare pop

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A Ghanaian based US professor says government and its allied institutions of state must stay away from regulating free speech.

Prof Kwaku Asare popularly called Kwaku Azar said the police and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) have no business arresting individuals for making comments, however irresponsible.

In a statement copied to Myjoyonline.com, Prof Asare said “to regulate political speech is to attack democracy itself.” If anything, he would rather a self correcting mechanism or peer reviews are adopted in dealing with issues of irresponsible speech.

“The proper antidote to such irresponsible and reckless speech, is for others to condemn them, ostracize the perpetrators, show the way with responsible speech and for the voters to reject such politicians.

“Of course, political speech may cross the line and veer into the highway of incitement to constitutional disorder. Such crossing must be evidenced by intent, imminence and the reasonable likelihood (not just possibility) of the feared disorder,” he said.

His comments come in the wake of arrest, detention and subsequent release of the Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress Koku Anyidoho.

Mr Anyidoho was arrested for threatening civil revolt that will unseat the government.

In an interview on an Accra based radio station, the Deputy NDC General Secretary said the current president will be overthrown just like his father was in 1972.

His comments received widespread condemnation prior to his arrest.

He was released after spending two nights in the custody of the BNI and cautioned for causing fear and panic and for making treasonable comments.

He has since been visiting the police to assist in investigations.

Commenting on the matter Kwaku Azar said politicians and the police cannot arrogate onto themselves powers to regulate free political speeches.

He argued the constitution provides maximum security to political speech and cited the example of Parliament where MPs are immune from civil action if they make their comments on the floor of Parliament.

Kwaku Azar said if politicians are allowed to continue regulating political speeches in the name of sanitizing free speech they will end up abusing the system.

“Such maximum protection is informed by our sordid history where governments, military and civilian, have arrested, detained and harassed opponents for stating contrary political views. It is also necessary because political speech is the glue that enables, flourishes and sustains democratic governance.

“In our recent history, victims include Kweku Baako, Haruna Atta, Tommy Thompson, Kennedy Agyepong, Koku Anyidohu, Dan Botwe, Arthur Kennedy, Apostle Barnabas, Asamoah Boateng, Free Press, Catholic Standard, etc. (Incidentally, the Court too has created its own victims with its recent invasion of the political square).

“Thus, when it comes to political speech, I have consistently, unrepentantly and unregrettably argued and will continue to argue that government cannot regulate it. As such, the Police and BNI have no business monitoring it, evaluating it or otherwise taking actions that interfere with it,” he said.

Source: Joynews

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