For a while now, Ghana has been sliding on the press freedom index.
The country has dropped three points to rank at 30 on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index released on April 21, 2020 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Ghana ranked 27 on the 2019 Index, a drop of three points from the rank of 23 from the previous year.
In what appears to be a creeping state of insecurity for journalists in Ghana, the country recorded several attacks on press freedom.
A notable incident was when ModernGhana editor Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri and reporter Emmanuel Yeboah Britwum were arrested and tortured by National Security operatives who accused the two journalists of hacking into emails and servers of competing websites and newsrooms and intercepting stories for their own use.
The journalists rejected the accusations and explained that their arrest was in connection with stories they published about Albert Kan Dapaah, the National Security Minister.
Another case in point is investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni, currently with TheGhanaReport, an online portal, who received chilling threats from unknown persons in respect of a documentary titled ‘Militia in the city’ while working with the Multimedia Group.
He had to be flown outside the country for a while for his safety.
Ms Della Russell Ocloo of Daily Graphic was on Sunday, August 4, 2019, allegedly attacked and molested by some agitated members of the Glorious Way Church.
Three journalists from the Ghanaian Times newspaper who were on their way for the day’s assignment were assaulted by about 10 police officers at Kinbu in Accra Central.
The assault followed a traffic offence and an accident involving a police officer who was using an unregistered motorcycle and the official Ghanaian Times vehicle, which was transporting the journalists to their various assignment venues.
Impunity for crimes against journalists is rising in Ghana.
Despite the several reported incidents of violations against journalists, punishment of perpetrators has been very rare, if any at all.
This culture of impunity for crimes against journalists only emboldens perpetrators and encourages others to abuse journalists at the least opportunity.
Many reported crimes go uninvestigated or end with the mere pronouncement by the police to the effect that investigations have commenced.
The Finder is deeply concerned about the sad events of the past years which add to a growing number of press freedom violations in Ghana in recent times.
These violations create a creeping sense of insecurity for journalists and the media in Ghana, which is otherwise held up as a model in Africa in terms of respect for press freedom.
Support from the general public is crucial for combating crimes against journalists.
Unfortunately, there appears to be dwindling public support for journalists due to complaints of poor standards, partisanship among journalists, corruption, among others.
The practice where abused journalists secretly take compensation from their attackers and thus show no interest in advocacy for justice is also worrying.
We, therefore, call on all stakeholders, especially the police, to take urgent steps to arrest Ghana’s decline on the press freedom index.
Freedom of expression is a pillar of a free people.
The ability to be well informed is the foundation of a healthy democracy.
And a strong and independent press is necessary to enable an engaged citizenry to make decision for the common good.
Source: The Finder