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Press freedom: Ghana’s 60th position depressing – GJA Prez

Press freedom: Ghana’s 60th position depressing – GJA Prez

President of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Roland Affail Money has described Ghana’s latest sharp decline from 30th to 60th position on media freedom, the worst in 17 years and since 2005 as heart breaking and depressing.

Speaking during World Press Freedom Day in Accra-Ghana on Wednesday 4 May 2022, GJA President Affail Money said “It is with a heavy heart that I welcome you all to the 2022 World Press Freedom Day. Heavy heart because of the Ghana’s latest ranking on the World Press Freedom Index which is depressing enough to effect dramatic mood swings from one of celebration to that of lamentation”.

Affail Money noted that “Indeed, a drop in ranking had been anticipated due to a confluence of anti-media factors. But never did we expect the drop to be so precipitous- 3rd in Africa to 10th, and 30th in the world to 60th, a 100 per cent decline”.

Meanwhile, Chairman of National Media Commission Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo has advised journalists to to exercise restraints in publishing news. ” If publish untruth about me and apologize to me, it doesn’t make it right, if you apologize to me, it means you’ve admitted that you’re wrong”.

READ THE WELCOME REMARKS BY GJA PRESIDENT AFFAIL MONNEY AT 2022 WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY ON MAY 4, 2022 AT GHANA INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTRE

Mr Chairman , Hon Minister of Information, Deputy Minister of Information, UNESCO Resident Representative, EU Ambassador to Ghana, Charge d’ Affaires of US Embassy in Accra, Heads of Media Institutions, Editors, Senior Journalists, Media Partners, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is with a heavy heart that I welcome you all to the 2022 World Press Freedom Day. Heavy heart because of the Ghana’s latest ranking on the World Press Freedom Index which is depressing enough to effect dramatic mood swings from one of celebration to that of lamentation.

Indeed, a drop in ranking had been anticipated due to a confluence of anti-media factors. But never did we expect the drop to be so precipitous- 3rd in Africa to 10th, and 30th in the world to 60th, a 100 per cent decline.

We watched with shudder and heard with shiver, merciless arrests and reckless attacks and animalistic disregard for the rights of a number of journalists in the line of duty. The deterministic outcome has been as sharp deterioration of the safety of journalists. Death threats rained on investigative journalists also went uninvestigated, let alone punished, while law enforcement officers who were supposed to protect journalists rather brutalized them.

Three years on the spin, the assassination of Ahmed Suale of Tiger Eye fame in the most heinous of circumstances has been a stain of Ghana’s reputation as a land of freedom and justice, a citadel of media freedom and a beacon of democratic accomplishment in Africa. Assurance upon assurance of arresting the perpetrators have remained a hollow rhetoric.

Soon after his appointment last year, we received with hope the announcement by the IGP Dr George Akuffo Dampare that a special unit had been established by the police to handle all such unresolved cases of brutalities against journalists. That hope is wobbling.

Despite its damning tone, the global press freedom report does not spell perpetual doom and gloom, neither does it sentence Ghana to an irreversible situation. It still recognizes Ghana as a regional pillar of democratic stability. In this regard, no institution comes near the media in terms of contributions to the country’s democratic baseline, and the fight against corruption. By strengthening their independent streak, solidifying their objective bent, amplifying their critical voice, and deepening their robust foothold, a vertiginous rise again on the global media league table is possible. The drive for resurgence also calls for a clear, radical and resolute stance to deal surgically with the cancerous spread of impunity. Impunity ignites a self- propelling and re- energizing cycle which becomes hellishly difficult to defeat, if it is not tackled from the root. And the root approach is applying the law fairly and squarely, to all offenders, at all times, regardless of their partisan stripes, material wealth or social standing.

We note with regrets that the Broadcasting Bill designed to address the lingering challenges on the airwaves has been incubating for far too long. While we urgently demand the birth of the proposed law, either by natural or Caesarian means, we need to orchestrate a national conversation to take a hard look at the ownership structure of the media. Ownership confers control on media owners, some whom go to the extent of dictating content to the professionals they employ. We dare say that this issue poses the greatest threat to media freedom in modern memory.

A twin threat to press freedom is the pitiable conditions of service of journalists. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) bluntly puts it that “there can be no press freedom if journalists exist in conditions corruption, poverty or fear.” In the face of the cost of living challenges, the time has come, more than ever before, to address the flip -flop poverty in the media. As the GJA strive to obtain a barg certificate after unionization, journalists themselves must treat their survival issues with utmost importance.
Ghana’s decline on global press freedom index does not obscure the fact that some notable individual have held high the banner of distinctly distilled journalism. Majority of media workers, producers, presenters, technicians and others deliver peak performance as they endure endless working hours, deep set fatigue, incessant deadlines and brusque environment. To all such people in Wa, Tumu, Tamale, Bolgatanga, Axim, Elubo, Kumasi, Takoradi, Cape Coast, Accra, Ho, and Afloa , we say Ayeekooo.

On the flip side are a few whose cynical disdain and breezy disregard for ethical values give media watchers and consumers a huge cause for concern. They must shape up in response to the dictates of their noble profession.

We take the opportunity to express our profound appreciation to UNESCO and the European Union for sponsoring this year’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day. To our traditional pillars of support- Ghana Government, Ministry of Information, and US Embassy, we are eternally gratieful.

On behalf of my executive, I once again welcome you all.

May our God of heaven bless us all.

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