Supreme Court Did Nothing Wrong In Sentencing Ken Kuranchie - Tony Aidoo

Head of Policy Monitoring and Evaluation at the Presidency under the erstwhile Prof Mills government, Dr Tony Aidoo, has waded into the public discussion of the jail sentence meted out to Stephen Atubiga and Ken Kuranchie by the Supreme Court over contemptuous comments saying it is about time media practitioners and commentators respect institutions of authority and obey the laws of the country. According to him, the fact that there is democracy in the country does not mean that one can do or say whatever he or she wants. Dr Tony Aidoo was commenting on the 10-day jail sentence slapped on Editor of the Daily Searchlight newspaper, Ken Agyei Kuranchie, by the nine-member panel of Supreme Court Judges adjudicating on the election petition suit for comments considered by the court to be contemptuous. The court also sentenced a member of the Communication team of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Stephen Atubiga to a three-day sentence on similar charges. Whiles the NDC Communicator was released on Thursday after serving his three day sentence, Ken Kuranchie has a couple more days left to serve. The court, prior to the imprisonment, had given final touchline warnings to all who twist, misrepresent, and speak ill of the court. Speaking to Suhiyini Alhassan on Radio Gold's Alhaji and Alhaji programme, Dr Tony Aidoo said: "democracy is not anarchy but what we are doing is that we are using democracy to create anarchy in this country; which shouldn't be so...nobody wants to use libel suits or contempt of court cases to chill free speech but it is about time the media practitioners do realise that, there is a thin line between two rights: the rights to a free speech and the right to defend your image, privacy and your confidence..." According to him, the courts are there to protect the rights of citizens; hence it cannot be scandalised or devalued, adding, 'in the last analysis when you yourself are in trouble who do you go to?' He also asserted that there is the need for Ghanaians to become responsible and 'responsibility means we must respect the institutions of authority and obey the law'. "Every case that goes before the court, the court must strike the necessary balance under different circumstances. I don't think the Supreme Court did any wrong in giving the sentence. The lesson for us is that we want to avoid situations that will compel the court to use contempt as the measure to chill free speech; otherwise the whole essence of our democratic dispensation will become hollow..."