Former President, John Dramani Mahama believes freedom of the media is under threat under the Akufo-Addo administration over the many threats and death recorded so far.
He said the governing party’s poor handling of the recent incidents including violent attacks and assault on journalists, the murder of an investigative journalist with Anas Aremeyaw Anas' TigerEye PI team, Ahmed Suale and attacks on Manasseh Azure is to blame for the drop in Ghana’s media credentials on the international scene.
Although journalists in the country are rarely arrested unjustly, they continue to experience physical attacks and abuse, a situation Mr. Mahama believes is undermining Ghana’s media freedom.
“Nana Akufo-Addo signed the criminal libel law so that journalists could no longer be penalized for their write-ups and yet under him press freedom is deteriorating. The last index that was published, Ghana has slipped several steps behind in terms of press freedom. At first, you go out and people tell you they admire the media independence of your country, but today we don’t feel the same. Everybody now feels there is a certain emasculation of the media space.”
The National Democratic Congress’ flagbearer (NDC) further described as shameful the practice where governments take on journalists merely because their administration has been criticized.
“Look at the threat to journalists. Mannaseh Azure was very active in our time and made several exposés but nobody went after him. Mannaseh never said he felt threatened under my administration. Even if our media is not perfect, we must encourage it to improve and not to harass anybody. Ahmed Suale has lost his life and it has gone international. I travel outside and people ask me what is happening in Ghana.”
“Why should journalists feel threatened because they criticize government. I came into office and faced some of the worse criticisms that any President has ever faced in this country. It is good for our democracy if they criticize us. If their stories are not true, you respond if you can. But under this President, I think the media is under attack”, he added.
Reporters Without Borders in its recent World Press Freedom Index saw Ghana lose its spot as one of the best-ranked countries for press freedom.
The drop was attributed mainly to the murder of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale earlier in 2019.
Globally, the country dropped from 23 in 2018 to 27 in 2019.
Ghana's drop in press freedom ranking a wake-up call – Affail Monney
The president of the Ghana Journalist Association of Ghana (GJA), Affail Monney has said that Ghana's drop in the latest ranking of the World Press Freedom Index must serve as a wake-up call to increase the protection of journalists in the country.
Affail Monney said security agencies and other state actors must work to protect journalists as they discharge their duties as expected in working democracies.
“This is a wakeup call to all of us to extend better protection especially officialdom and the security apparatus to ensure that journalists are protected better than it is now and to ensure that cases of attacks against journalists are also investigated expeditiously and the perpetrators deal with surgically. This is the time for us to deal with impunity head on otherwise we will continue to slip and once we slip, the beacon of our democracy will also dim,” he said.