Ghana’s Drop In Reporter’s Without Borders Press Freedom Rankings And Suggestions

Once again Journalists the world over are celebrating Press Freedom Day. A day proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendations by UNESCO. Since then, journalists have used the occasion to highlight the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom around the world; bringing to the fore the need to defend the media from attacks; and above all pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Here in Ghana, the murder of Ahmed Suale raises a number of questions regarding the safety of journalists.
On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, Ahmed Hussein Suale, a member of the Tiger Eye PI investigative team led by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, was shot and killed by unknown gunmen. This incident attracted local, regional and international attention and condemnation. Many including the UN have called on the Ghanaian authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate the matter to bring the perpetrators to book. Indeed, the police are yet to arrest the culprits. Ahmed’s killing in the line of duty exposes the deficiencies when it comes to safety of Journalists in Ghana. It also portrays the failure by the State in protecting the inherent right of Journalists as enshrined in Articles 162 and 163 in the 1992 constitution.
According to the Media Foundation For West Africa, in the last four years, there have been reports of 62 incidence of attacks on journalists and media houses in Ghana. And this translates into more than one attack on journalists per month. The attacks seem to prevail unabated. The Society of Professional Journalists, CPJ reports that 54 journalists were killed last year in the line of duty. Notable among them was the assassination at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Turkey of Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. His family say they are yet to find justice. Speaking of justice, Multimedia Journalist, Latif Idris is also among the list of Ghanaian Journalists who have been victims of assault. Latif suffered a fractured skull after he was brutalised by the police. There have also been attacks on media organizations such as Hot FM in Accra, Radio Justice in Tamale, and the Daily Guide’s offices in Kumasi.
The consequence of the continued phenomenon of state inaction on issues of attacks on journalists have bred a thriving culture of impunity that has given the impression that journalists can be abused without a finger being raised. No doubt Ghana has dropped in this year’s press freedom rankings. The latest ranking released by Reporters without Borders shows Namibia at the top spot in Africa in the World Press Freedom Index. Ironically, Ghana hosted the global celebration of World Press Freedom Day last year, while on top of the league table of free media space in Africa and ranked 23rd globally. Ghana is now ranked 2nd in Africa and 27th globally.
This drop-in press freedom signals the need to strengthen the cooperation between media and the law enforcement agencies and build and strengthen national mechanism for the safety of journalists. What is more important, journalists must desist from collecting ”back door compensation”, that undermines the collective urge and responsibility to seek justice and ensure safety for journalists in the line of duty.
By Rebecca Ekpe, a Journalist.

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