The Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo, has stated that the freedom of the media in Ghana is not in any way under siege.
Reacting to the 2022 Press Freedom Index, which saw Ghana drop 30 places from 30th in 2021 to 60th in 2022 – the lowest in 17 years after Ghana had placed 66th in 2005 – the NMC Chairman said the development is worrying.
Speaking in an interview on Asaase Radio over the weekend, Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo further indicated the decline is a concern, definitely, to every rational person, adding that “for whatever it is, if it had been two or three [points] down, you’ll take it as something that is normal.”
“But 30 points down, which is a 100% drop, definitely arouses concern. But it also offers a sober moment for critical analysis to establish what are the fundamentals that are not working and how did we fly as far as this point?” he said.
He added: “I don’t hold the belief that press freedom is under siege. That is not to suggest that there have not been some developments that undermine free expression in terms of overzealous security personnel, intolerant individual Ghanaians and there are also irresponsible journalists. So all these put together create that atmosphere”.
In a related development, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Roland Affail Monney, has also reacted to the country’s decline on the latest World Press Freedom index, saying he did not expect Ghana’s “precipitous” ranking by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
At an event to commemorate World Press Freedom Day in Accra recently, the GJA President noted that the ranking does not sentence Ghana to an irreversible situation.
Mr Monney suggested that “arrests and reckless attacks and animalistic disregard for the rights of a number of journalists in the line of duty” had resulted in a sharp deterioration of the safety of journalists in the country.
He said the GJA was also losing hope in the Police with regard to the resolution of unresolved cases of brutalities against 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,” he added.
He recalled that three years on the spin, the assassination of Ahmed Suale of Tiger Eye fame in the most heinous of circumstances had 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,” he indicated.