IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE
IN THE HIGH COURT (HUMAN RIGHTS DIVISION)
ACCRA - A.D 2016
AFUA POKUA, SHARDRACK ASSAN AND SAMUEL SEFA - (Applicants)
NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE AUTHORITY, ISREAL QUARME AYER AND RICHJOYCE N. ARMAH - (Respondents)
DATE: 23RD JUNE, 2016
SUIT NO: HRCM/CM 240/2015
JUDGES: A. M. DOMAKYAAREH (MRS) J. A.SITTING AS ADDITIONAL HIGH COURT JUDGE
DOMAKYAAREH (MRS) J. A. Sitting as Additional High Court Judge.
1. The 1st applicant in this suit is a News Editor in the employment of Multimedia Group
Limited working with its Adom 106.3 Fm News Department. The 2nd and 3rd applicants are broadcast journalists also in the employment of Multimedia Group Limited working in the Adom 106.3 Fm News Department.
The 1st respondent on the other hand is a State Institution established by law to among other objects provide and mange a national health insurance scheme. The 2nd and 3rd respondents are employees of the 1st respondent and they are the District Manager and Public Relations Officer respectively of the Ablekuma Sub-Metro office of the 1st respondent.
The applicants are in court seeking to enforce their fundamental human rights pursuant to Articles 21
(1)(a), 162 (4), 162 (5) and 24 (1) of the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution and under Order 67 of C I
47. They accordingly filed a motion to that effect on 10th March, 2015.
2. In order to better appreciate the import of the applicants’ move, it is necessary to set out in extenso at the very beginning, the Constitutional and other legal provisions that they are relying on or invoking. We start with the Constitutional provisions.
Article 21 (1)(a):
“(1) All persons shall have the right to -
(a) freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media;”
Article 162 (4):
“(4) Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by Government, not shall they be penalized or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications.”
Article 162 (5):
“(5) All agencies of the mass media shall, at all times, be free to uphold the principles, provisions and objectives of this Constitution, and shall uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people of Ghana.”
Article 24 (1):
“(1) Every person has the right to work under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions, and shall receive equal pay for equal work without distinction of any kind.”
Order 67 of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004,C I 47 deals with the enforcement of fundamental human rights and provides the rules and procedure for prosecuting same. The rules provide for the mode of submission of the application, the time for the submission of the application, the response to the application, setting down the application for hearing, the hearing of the application, the appearance of lawyer, the directions, orders or writs that the court may issue, and appeals against the directions, orders or writs by persons dissatisfied with any such directions, orders or writs. I shall refer to the specific rules of Order 67 as and when they become relevant in this Ruling.
3. The applicants allege that the respondents have violated their fundamental human rights contrary to the Constitutional provisions quoted above. They sought to demonstrate same in a 29 paragraph Affidavit in Support deposed to by the 1st applicant on behalf of herself and the 2nd and 3rd applicants. The applicants deposed to in graphic detail how on 11th September, 2014, the respondents violated their fundamental human rights contrary to the said Constitutional provisions quoted above. The gist can however be distilled as follows:
§ That in pursuance of their normal and usual course of business the 3rd applicant was detailed by the 1st applicant to the Ablekuma Sub-Metro office of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) following persistent calls and complaints to their News Room that they had been visiting the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) offices for upward to four weeks to register and or collect their cards and stood in or sat in long queues without being attended to.
§ That the purpose of the visit by the 3rd applicant was to find out what was happening at the said office premises with a view to issuing a news report on same.
§ That the 3rd applicant upon arriving at the premises sought to interact with some of the subscribers who were murmuring and shouting their frustrations. According to the applicants, there was a crowded queue of about one hundred and more subscribers outside the offices and milling onto the street in front of the office.
§ That the 2nd and 3rd respondents emerged from their offices instructed the 3rd applicant to halt his interaction with the complaining subscribers and went ahead to seize his mobile phone/audio recording device used to capture the interaction with the said subscribers.
§ The 3rd applicant reported the incident to his Editor (1st applicant) who drove to the NHIS offices with the 2nd applicant to demand the return of the mobile phone/audio recording device.
§ That the 2nd and 3rd respondents refused to release the recording device; and that while they were leaving the offices, the angry subscribers confronted them and accused them of taking bribes from the respondents in order not to broadcast their concerns to attract the right assistance;
§ that while trying to explain matters to the angry subscribers, the 2nd respondent came out of his office in the company of three or four other men and engaged in a brawl with the applicants;
§ that the 2nd respondent seized the 1st applicant by the neck, dragged her into a gutter nearby, pushed her into it and continued the assault with one of the other men who came out with the 2nd respondent;
§ that the 1st applicant sustained wounds and bruises while the second applicant was slapped by the 2nd respondent and manhandled by some of his team soon after the 1st applicant was rescued;
§ that the applicants lodged a complaint with the Kaneshie Police whereupon they were issued with medical forms and they went to the hospital where they were treated;
§ that the 2nd respondent was subsequently charged before court on two counts of assault while the 3rd respondent was charged on one count of offensive conduct conducive to breach of the peace;
§ that the 1st respondent subsequently suspended the 2nd and 3rd respondents from work to allow for internal investigations into the incident.
4. On the basis of the above sequence of events the applicants asserted that the respondents have violated their fundamental human rights contrary to the Constitutional provisions referred to earlier on.
The applicants are seeking three reliefs, namely: -
1. A declaration that1st, 2nd, and 3rd respondents’ interference with and/or violation of applicants’ rights in the manner complained of and referred to in paragraph 26 [of the Affidavit in Support] are wrongful and unlawful interference with those rights of applicants and constitute violations of the applicants’ fundamental human rights.
2. An order directed at the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respondents jointly and severally for damages for wrongful and unlawful interference with and violation of the applicants’ fundamental human rights; and
3. An order directed at the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respondents to render an unqualified apology in writing jointly to the applicants for the embarrassment caused them and for said respondents to within seven days from the day of judgement, cause same to be published in the Daily Graphic News Paper and given special prominence.
5. On 23-3-2015, the respondents filed a Notice of Conditional Appearance through their solicitor without following through with the usual procedure following the entry of Conditional Appearance. They are therefore deemed to have abandoned that route.Under Order 67 r 4(1) of C I 47 any person served with the notice of an application for the enforcement of fundamental human rights shall file an affidavit in answer to the application within twenty-one days of service of the motion on him. The proof of service of the application indicates that the application was served on the 1st respondent on 13thMarch 2015. Then on 10thApril 2015 the 1st,2nd, and 3rd respondents filed their affidavit in opposition deposed to by the Head of theLegal Department of the 1st respondent. The respondents thus filed their affidavit in opposition on the 28th day after service of the application on them.
Despite the filing of the affidavit in opposition out of time o 10-04-15, the applicants took the fresh step of requesting the Registrar of the High Court, Human Rights Division to issue a Hearing Notice to the respondents for 29thMay 2015. They are thus deemed to havewaived any objection based on non-observance of the time limit set by the said order 67 r 4(1) of C I 47.
6. The respondents also relied on a 29 paragraph Affidavit in Reply to the application. The essence of their Reply was that:
§ On 11-09-2014 NHIS subscribers reported at their Ablekuma Sub-Metro office either to register with the scheme, renew their expired NHIS cards or make enquiries concerning the newly introduced biometric cards;
§ That they were in a queue waiting for their turn when the 3rd applicant came to distort the queue and created chaos by inviting some subscribersfor interview;
§ That the 2nd respondent approached the 3rd applicant and invited him to his office for a discussion on his mission; that the 3rd applicant declined the invitation where upon the 3rd respondent asked the 3rd applicant to hand over his phone/recorder and asked him to go and call whoever sent him to conduct the interviews without any prior consent/permission of the NHIS or its officer in charge of the process. The 2nd and 3rd respondents denied seizing the phone and/orrecorder from the 3rd applicant;
§ that sometime about 2.00 pm on the same day the 3rd applicant returned with the 1st and 2nd applicants who demanded the immediate release of the recorder in a rude and disrespectful manner;
§ that the applicants’ conduct of the interview without the prior consent or knowledge of the 1st or 2nd respondents and without following due process created chaos and distorted the well-formed queues;
§ that the 1st applicants’ lack of sense of decorum and self-respect led to the 2nd respondent giving the applicants the option of either sitting down for a meaningful discussion and amicable resolution of the impasse or to leave his office.
§ The respondent denied that they caused the injuries stated in the medical forms annexed by the applicants to their Affidavit in Support and rather contented that the applicants’ show of arrogance, disrespect and pride led to some subscribers of the scheme assaulting the 1st applicant.
§ The respondents contented that the applicants’ claim before the court disclosed no cause of action against the 1st respondent because it is not vicariously liable either at law or in tort for the alleged action of any of its officers or for being directly responsible for or involved in the alleged action;
§ that the originating process of a Motion on Notice does not properly invoke the jurisdiction of the court as the applicants’ remedy if any lies in tort;
§ that the applicants instituted the suit in bad faith because their claims do not raise even a remote issue of enforcement of any provision of the 1992 Constitution;
§ that the grounds relied upon by the applicants in support of their rights that they are asserting pursuant to the Constitutional provisions are mere conjectures and do not raise any issues of human rights abuses either directly or remotely against the respondents;
§ that in as much as the applicants are not the employees of the 1st respondent, their economic right to work could not have been interfered with by the respondents, and that on the contrary, the applicants interfered with the work of the NHIA in the name of freedom of the press and accountability of government to Ghanaians.
§ The respondents asserted that walking out a disrespectful and disruptive journalist from a public function is no infringement of their economic right;
§ that the applicants falsely accused the 2nd and 3rd respondents of seizing their recorder;
§ that the 2nd and 3rd respondents could not reasonably be said to be interfering with the editorial opinions, views or content of the applicants’ publications since they were not the employers of the applicants nor did they have editorial or supervisory control over the publications of the applicants.
§ Respondents concluded their case by stating that the applicants’ claims and reliefs being sought are vexatious, frivolous, unmeritorious, a complete abuse of the court process and a waste of the respondents’ time and resources.
7. The Docket does not indicate whether the applicants complied with order 67 r 5 of C I 47 by setting down the application for hearing within twenty-one days of service of the affidavit in reply to the application and giving notice of same to the other parties to the proceedings. However on 2-7-15 my brother K.A. Okwabi J before whom this matter was then pending ordered the parties to file Written Submissions by 23-7-15. The respondents filed their Written Submission on 28-7-15 followed by a supplementary one filed on 3-9-15. The applicants filed their Written Submission on 10-8-15.
Out of the two divergent positions, various issues emerge for determination to which we shall now turn our attention. The respondents raised three preliminary legal objections in paragraph 22 (a) of their Affidavit in Opposition which we are bound by law to determine first.
Respondents’ preliminary legal objection as to procedure and jurisdiction:
8. The respondents contended that the remedy of the applicants, if any, lay in tort and for that matter the originating process resorted to by the applicants does not invoke the jurisdiction of the court.
Article 33 (1)of the 1992 Constitution provides as follows:
“(1)Where a person alleges that a provision of this Constitution on fundamental human rights and freedoms has been, or is being, or is likely to be contravened in relation to him, then without prejudice to any other action that is lawfully available, that person may apply to the High Court for redress.” (Emphasis added)
The respondents may be of the view that the circumstances leading to the instant suit could easily lend themselves to an action in tort. They are entitled to hold that opinion but that does not preclude the applicants from applying to the High Court for redress if they perceive that their human rights have been infringed thereby. Article 33 (1) of the 1992 constitution gives them that option and the respondents cannot fault the applicants for choosing the option to apply to the High Court for redress as opposed to any other action that may be lawfully available.
The case of AWUNI VRS WAEC [2003 – 2004] 1 SCGLR 471provided the Supreme Court with an opportunity to pronounce on the procedure for invoking human rights under Article 33 (1) of the Constitution. Sophia Akuffo JSC stated categorically therein that when Article 33 (1) states that a person may apply to the High Court for redress “there is an irresistible presumption that such a person may invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court by way of an application rather than by way of a writ of summons.” In the same case, Date-Bah JSC (as he then was) put it this way: -
“Until the Rules of Court Committee has prescribed a particular mode of application under article 33 (1), applicants should be given the latitude as to how to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court.”
The Rules of Court Committee has since 2004 filled this lacuna by providing the procedure for the enforcement of fundamental human rights under Order 67 of C I 47. Order 67 r. 1 provides as follows: -
“1. A person who seeks redress in respect of the enforcement of any fundamental human right in relation to the person under article 33 (1) of the Constitution shall submit an application to the High Court.”
Order 67 r. 2 provides in part as follows: -
“2 (1) The application shall be made to the court by motion supported by an affidavit signed by the applicant or by the applicant’s lawyer and shall contain the following particulars …”
Again,Order 67 r. 3(1(a) states as follows:
“Time for submission of application
3 (1) The application shall be submitted to the High Court within
(a) six months of the occurrence of the alleged contravention.”
It is noted that the acts complained of by the applicants took place on 11th September 2014 and that
their application was filed 10thMarch 2015 thus bringing them exactly within the ambit of the time limit set by order 67 r 3(1)(a) of C I 47.
There is therefore no doubt that the applicants have come to court by the right procedure and have thus properly invoked the jurisdiction of the court.
Respondents’ preliminary legal objection as to cause of action:
9. The respondents say that the applicants’ claim discloses no cause of action against the 1st respondent as either being vicariously liable at law or in tort for the alleged actions of any of its officers. A cause of action consists of a legal wrong that a party claims to have suffered and detailing the reliefs that the wronged party is seeking from the court. In other words, the legal wrong suffered and the reliefs claimed must relate to substantial and factual matters as opposed to theoretical claims raised in a vacuum which will result in the court making empty declarations or rendering an advisory opinion which the court is not supposed to do. See BIMPONG-BUTA VRS. GENERAL LEGAL COUNCIL [2003 – 2004] 2 SCGLR 1200.
The applicants’ affidavit in support discloses actual disputes affecting their rights and the reliefs they are seeking if proved will lead to enforceable declarations and not empty ones.The applicants have shown that they have a cause of action against the respondents.A fortiori, the contention by the respondents that the grounds relied upon by the applicants in support of the rights that they are asserting are mere conjectures and do not raise any issues of human rights abuses either directly or remotely against the respondents cannot be correct.
Respondents’ preliminary legal objection as to liability:
10. At paragraph 22 (a) of their affidavit in opposition the 1st respondent stated that it is not vicariously liable either at law or in tort for the alleged actions of any of its officers. It is trite learning that under the common law employers are vicariously liable for the actions and inactions/omissions of their employees particularly those acts of commission or omission done in the ordinary course of their duties. See the case of KANKAADI AND ANOR VRS. B. I. O. LTD AND ANOR  2 GLR.The principle also has statutory backing in Ghana as can be seen in the Civil liability act, 1963 (Act 176) and the Workmen’ Compensation Law, 1987 (PNDCL187).
The respondents willtherefore be vicariously liable for the actions and inactions of the 2nd and 3rd respondents if proved.
We now move to the gravamen of the applicants’ complaint i. e.
Whether or not their fundamental human rights have been violated as alleged:
11. As mentioned earlier on, the applicants state that their fundamental human rights and freedoms under Articles 21 (1)(a), 162 (5), 24 (1) and 162 (4) of the 1992 Constitution have been infringed upon by the respondents. These constitutional provisions have been quoted in extenso earlier on. Collectively, these provisions guarantee among others freedom of speech and expression, freedom to uphold the responsibility and accountability of Government to the people of Ghana, the right to work under safe conditions and freedom from punishment or harassment for the editorial opinions, views or the content of their publications. These fundamental rights and freedoms are necessary in any democratic state like Ghana. It is however noted that no freedom or right is absolute. Indeed the 1992 Constitution has provided exceptions to the fundamental human rights and freedoms that it has guaranteed.Article 12 (2) of the Constitution provides as follows: -
“12 (2) Every person in Ghana, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion, creed or gender shall be entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual in this Chapter but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest.”
Article 21 (1)(f) also provides that
“21 (1) All persons shall have the right to
(f) information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society.”
And Article 164 of the 1992 Constitution provides that:
“The provisions of Articles 162 and 163 of this Constitution are subject to laws that are reasonably required in the interest of national security, public order, public morality and for the purpose of protecting the reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons.”
We now consider the violation or otherwise of the various Constitutional provisions relied upon by the applicants.
Article 21 (1)(a) of the 1992 Constitution:
12. The applicants in seeking to interview persons affected by the challenges then being faced by the NHIA at it Ablekuma Sub-Metro office on 11-09-2014 were exercising their fundamental human rights under Article 21 (1)(a) of the 1992 Constitution which guarantees freedom of the press and other media. The respondents sought to justify whatever happened on that faithful day under the exceptions to the fundamental human rights guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution quoted earlier on. The respondents submitted that in view of an administrative directive of the 1st respondent the 3rd applicant was required to inform and or seek the consent of the 1st or 2nd Respondent before granting interviews to subscribers to NHIS in the premises if the 1st Respondents; that the violation of these directives by the applicants was likely to and in fact, did generate chaos and confusion at the material time. Respondents placed much premium on the unnecessary – that the 3rd applicant was not a qualified journalist at the material time that the 1st applicant was rude, arrogant, disrespectful and proud andthat was justification for walking the applicants out of their office in order to protect respect for their right of as per Article 12(2) of the Constitution.I find these reasons adduced by the respondents as unmeritorious and hold that they interfered with the applicants’ right to freedom of the press and of the media.
Article 162 (5) of the Constitution:
13. The applicants in seeking to interview persons affected by the challenges then being faced by the NHIA at it Ablekuma Sub-Metro office on 11-09-2014 were also seeking to exercise their rights under article 162 (5) of the Constitution which include upholding the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people of Ghana. The NHIA is a State institution through which the Government provides and manages the national health insurance scheme to the people of Ghana. The press and other media as the Fourth Estate of the Realm havea duty to monitor the activities of the NHIA with a view to holding Government accountable in the discharge of its responsibilities therein to the people and residents of Ghana.By preventing the applicants from performing their duties on the said day, the respondents infringe on the Article 162 (5) rights of the applicants.
Article 24 (1) of the 1992 Constitution:
14. Article 24 (1) guarantees the economic right to work and matters related thereto. The applicants went to the premises of the Ablekuma Sub-Metro of the 1st respondent in the ordinary course of their work. The respondents denied the interference of this right because the applicants’ employment has not been threatened or endangered in any manner since they have remained in their respective employments. The respondents have chosen to limit their response to the first seven words of article 24 (1) of the Constitution, namely “Every person has a right to work” and ignored what follows i. e.
“under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions and shall receive equal pay for equal work without distinction of any kind.” The work of reporters, journalists, and media houses necessarily involves working outside the confines of their office structures. No matter the case, they are entitled to among other things work under safe conditions. Anybody who assaults them or fails to prevent an assault on them in the ordinary course of their business when they have a duty to do so violates their right to work under safe conditions. I find the respondents liable in this respect.
Article 162 (4) of the 1992 Constitution:
15. The applicants in seeking to interview persons affected by the challenges then being faced by the NHIA at it Ablekuma Sub-Metro office on 11-09-2014 intended to publish a news report pursuant to their rights under Article 162 (4) of the Constitution. The respondents contended that that the 2nd and 3rd respondents could not reasonably be said to be interfering with the editorial opinions, views or content of the applicants’ publications since they were not the employers of the applicants nor did they have editorial or supervisory control over the publications of the applicants. The actual result of the respondents’ action and or reaction was that they prevented the applicants from publishing the news report in the manner they would have done by seizing their recording device and refusing to hand same over to the applicants.The respondents thus interfered with the article 162 (4) rights of the applicants.
16. Surely the Respondents have the right to challenge the exercise of the rights by the applicants if they are of the opinion that the applicants are exercising their rights in a manner that does not take respect for their rights into account but it is trite to state that suchchallenge must be lawful and constitutional. The reaction of the 2nd and 3rd respondents as regards the alleged conduct of the 1st applicant smacks of the old testament principle of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” or in present day colloquial parlance “you do me I do you”and possibly beyond that by resorting to assault when faced with rudeness, arrogance etc. The respondents contend that it was the 1st applicants “lack of sense of decorum and self-respect” and show of arrogance, disrespect and pride which led some subscribers of the scheme to assault her. Having studied the respective cases of the parties very carefully I am of the considered opinion that whatever confusion that ensued on that day was greatly contributed to by the 2nd respondent in that having walked the applicants out of his office in a tit for tat mode, he and three or four others came out of his office and while the applicants were trying to explain matters to the subscribers who had accused them of having gone in to take bribes from the 2nd and 3rdRespondentsso as not to broadcast their concerns to attract the right assistance, launched an onslaught and engaged in a brawl with the applicants.
17. Within the exceptions to the fundamental Human Rights, I see a competing interest between the respect for the rights and freedom of the 1st Respondent as an institution and the 2nd and 3rd Respondents as employees of the 1st Respondent on the one hand and the rights of public interest on the other hand which the applicants were pursuing. In my considered opinion, the public interest ought to override the interest of the respondents either individually or collectively.
18. Whether or not the 3rdapplicant’s phone/ recorder was voluntarily handed over as the respondents depose to in their affidavit in opposition or seized as per the applicants version, the fact remains that by refusing to hand over the said device to the applicants, that constitutes interference with the views or contents of the publicationsof the applicants contrary to Article162(4) of the1992 Constitution. In any event, here is what transpired at pages 1 to 2 of Exhibit “CD – TRANS” annexed to the Affidavit in Support of the Application: -
“NHIS BOSS: well you cannot come to my area without prior information to me that is me! I even reported it directly to my regional director.
AFIA POKUA: that one I don’t have a problem that is your own internal structure.
NHIS BOSS: not own internal structure that is the directive from authority. Please pay attention to me we have seized the recorder.
AFIA POKUA: know [sic] you cannot! Is a phone you can’t?
NHIS BOSS: so what will you do?
AFIA POKUA: we want the recorder we want our phone you are not the police if you like go to the police and report.
NHIS BOSS: we will not give it to you”
19. The respondents also sought to justify their action and or reaction by relying on articles 2 and 12 of the Code of Ethics of the Ghana Journalists Association. Article2 which is on social responsibility states as follows:
“Article 2. In collecting and disseminating information the journalist should bear in his/her mind responsibility to the public at large and the various interests in society”.
Article 12 of the GJA Code of Ethics which deals with information and pictures also provides as follows:
“Article 12. A journalist shall obtain information, photographs and illustrations only by straight forward means. The use of other means can be justified only by overriding consideration of the public interest. The journalist is entitled to exercise a personal conscientious objection to the use of such means.”
It is gratifying to note that both provisions of the GJA Code of Ethics mention consideration of public interest. Even if one can classify interviewing persons who have over flowed on to the streets because of lack of space within the premises of the Ablekuma Sub-Metro office of the NHIA as constituting obtaining information not by straightforward means, it is my considered opinion that the overriding consideration of public interest justify the use of such means as envisaged within the ambit of Article 12 of the GJA Code of Ethics quoted supra.
Assault on the persons of the applicants:
20. The Respondents deny such assault contending that internal investigations by the 1st Respondent into same exonerated the 2nd and 3rd Respondents. I take note of the fact that the District Court One at Adjabeng, Accra, on 30thMarch, 2015 discharged the 3rd respondent from the charge of offensive conduct conducive to the breach of peace contrary to section 207(1) of Act 29/60 and find that the 3rd respondent did not assault the applicants. That apart, I have stated earlier on that in my considered opinion, on evaluation of the totality of the affidavit evidence on record the applicants’ case is more probable than that of the Respondents and I therefore give the applicants a favourable verdict on the authority of TAKORADI FLOUR MILLS VRS SAMIR FARIS [2005-2006] SCGLR 882 holding 5.
In any event even if it was the subscribers who assaulted the applicants as the Respondent would want the court to believe, for failing to prevent the brawl and/or the assault within their premises or proximate there to, I hold the 1st Respondents vicariously liable for those acts since the 1st Respondent has a duty to ensure and maintain orderly conduct of its business.
21. The medical reports exhibited as Exhibits “C” and “C 1” show that the 1st and 2nd applicants sustained physical injuries following the assault. Exhibit “C” in respect of the 2nd applicant showed that he was assaulted on 11 – 09 – 14 and reported at the Police Hospital with reddening of the left eye and swelling of the left temporal region associated with headache and dizziness. There was also pain on movement of the left shoulder and on abduction. Exhibit “C1” was in respect of the first applicant who was also assaulted on 11 – 09 – 14 and reported at the Police Hospital with pain in the right thigh and headache, scratch marks on the right thigh, bruising and tenderness of the right thigh, back, right calf and left sole. Both applicants did not however exhibit any medical bills relating to the hospital attendance though no doubt they would have incurred some expenses. I will therefore use my discretion to award them some compensation in that regard. Following the assault, it is also a legitimate inference to draw that the applicants would have suffered some emotional distress for which they are entitled to compensation. Their injuries were not the same and this will be taken into account in any damages that will be awarded.
22. An overall evaluation of the divergent versions of this suit has demonstrated that this application was not brought in bad faith, and that neither is it vexatious, frivolous, and unmeritorious and an abuse of the court process as the respondents would want the court to believe.It is my considered opinion that the applicants have made out their case and I accordingly deliver this judgment in their favour.
23. Out of the several reliefs claimed by the applicants, I grant themthe following which have been proved on the balance of probabilities in accordance with the standard required by the law under Section 12 of the Evidence Act, 1975 (Act 323): -
A declaration that the respondents interfered with and or violated the rights of the applicants to work under safe conditions contrary to Article 24 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.
A declaration that the respondents interfered with and prevented the applicants from exercising their Article 21 (1)(a) right to free speech and expression which includes freedom of the press and the media.
A declaration that the respondents interfered with and prevented the applicants from exercising their Article 162 (5) right to at all times be free to uphold the responsibility and accountability of Government to the people of Ghana.
A declaration that the respondents interfered with and or violated the applicants Article 162 (4) right to freedom from interference and harassment for the views and content of their publications by taking/seizing their phone/recorder and refusing to hand over same.
An order to the respondents to jointly render an unqualified apology in writing to the applicants within fourteen (14) days from the day of this judgment and cause same to be published in any daily newspaper of national circulation and giving it special prominence.
General damages awarded in favour of the applicants as follows and jointly and severally against the respondents.
§ To the 1st applicant GH₵2,500.00
§ To the 2nd applicant GH₵2,000.00
§ To the 3rd applicant GH₵1,000.00.
Costs of GH₵2,000.00 against the respondents jointly and severally.