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Press freedom ranking in Ghana: are we really improving?


The 2024 Press Freedom Index report published by Reporters Without Borders indicates that Ghana has risen 12 places from 62nd position in 2023 to 50th.

In terms of score, the West African nation scored 67.71%, an increase of 1.78 percentage points compared to 65.93% in 2023, the report stated.

But can we say this is an improvement compared to where we were? What factors are contributing to this development? Or better yet, how is the global index doing? Let’s dive in.

Where were we and what happened.

About a decade ago, Ghana was among the 30 countries in the world with a good reputation when it comes to press freedom. In terms of score, the nation obtained an “A”, above 80%, making it the third best in Africa, along with Namibia and Cape Verde. Freedom of the press in Ghana was called “Satisfying”.

Over the past three years, there have been a series of challenges that have worsened press freedom, making it difficult for journalism and the public’s right to reliable, independent and diverse news and information.

According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), journalists have faced threats, arrests, detentions and even torture by state agencies such as the police, the military and political agents of political parties.

Political attacks on press freedom have intensified significantly in recent years, including the suppression of independent media and the widespread dissemination of misinformation.

These are some of the events that have occurred over the years.

joynews

  • Latif Iddrisu, a Ghanaian journalist for the Joy FM radio station and the JoyNews television channel, was beaten by a group of police officers at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in the country’s capital, Accra, on March 27, 2018.

Radio Dagbon

  • Dagbon Radio radio host Sadiq Abubakari Gariba was attacked during a live radio program on May 3, marking World Press Freedom Day, by a former communications officer for the Northern Region of the National Democratic Congress. (NDC).

Radio Ada

  • In March 2023, Radio Ada station deputy coordinator Noah Dameh was remanded in custody by the Tema Circuit Court for publishing “fake news” about a businessman. He was released on bail six days after his detention was challenged.
  • In August 2022, Ada Traditional Area chiefs banned Radio Ada from covering the area’s traditional festival because the station had constantly discussed the alleged irregularity of the salt mine concessions awarded to McDan’s Electrochem.
  • Radio Ada was also attacked on Thursday, January 13, 2023 by a group of eight men, one of whom was reportedly armed with a gun.

Brenya FM

  • In May 2022, some men broke into the Benya FM studio, “kicked and punched radio host Osofo Blessing and his producer, Nana Gyefo, and destroyed the station’s equipment.”
  • The station’s program director, Usman Kwaku Dawood, was reported to have said the attackers were supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) who were unhappy with the way the station’s programming dealt with issues such as government mismanagement. of the fishing business in Elmina. .

Connect FM

  • Connect FM journalist Eric Nana Gyetuah was allegedly assaulted by five police officers in February 2022 for taking photographs of some arrested people that the police had taken to the restaurant and refused to delete the photos when confronted.

Citi FM

  • In 2021, Citi FM’s Caleb Kudah was also assaulted by Homeland Security agents when he went to film abandoned state vehicles hidden in the Homeland Security yard.

Ahmed Hussein Suale

  • In 2019, investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale was murdered after a prominent member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) showed his photographs on Net 2 TV, inciting the public to attack him.
  • Ahmed Suale was later shot dead by unknown gunmen, but to date no one has been held responsible for his murder. It was in that year that Ghana fell to third position in Africa and 27th in the world.

These events, among others, have contributed to the decline in press freedom. In 2022, Ghana fell 30 places, going from 30th in 2021 to 60th with 67.43%.

This got even worse in 2023, when Ghana dropped two more places to 62nd position and ranked 10th in Africa. Ghana was behind Burkina Faso, despite being ruled by the military, banning local broadcasts of international stations and deporting foreign journalists.

Freedom of the press in Ghana is called “Problematic

Therefore, it seems valid to ask the question of whether we are improving by ranking 50th, as the World Press Freedom Report for 2024 says.

What factors are contributing to this “improvement”?

The index is generated using 5 main indicators. Despite the improvement in Ghana’s ranking and score, there was a decrease in scores for 4 of the 5 indicators. These include political, economic, legislative and social. The only indicator that experienced an improvement compared to 2023 was press security, which registered 82.94%.

This shows that there is much work to be done on the remaining four indicators.

Despite Ghana’s reputation for democratic stability, journalists face increasing pressure, leading to self-censorship amid the government’s intolerance of criticism.

One-third of media outlets are politically affiliated and produce partisan content. While press freedom is constitutionally guaranteed, financial challenges plague the industry.

Journalists face security risks, evidenced by attacks and threats from political supporters. Police violence against journalists often goes unpunished, as seen in the stalled investigation into the murder of journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale, further compounded by the fact that government officials cited a lack of evidence to justify inaction.

The global perspective.

The year-to-date outlook indicates that 12 journalists have been killed this year and around 570 journalists and media workers are currently detained. China (111), Myanmar (70), Belarus (47) and Israel (38) contain about 46.6% of these journalists and media workers.

The report also indicated that there is a global decline in press freedom that is threatened by the very people who should be its guarantors.

The influence of political authorities and the failure to fulfill their role as guarantors of the best possible environment for journalism and news is diminishing press freedom and will be exacerbated by the number of elections that will be held in 2024.

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