2018 UNESCO Global Press Freedom Day celebration in Accra Stop attacking journalists – President to states around the world

President Akufo-Addo speaking at the event

President Akufo-Addo speaking at the event

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has condemned “state-sponsored acts” and unnecessary attacks that seek to restrict the practice of journalism.

 

According to the President, despite the gains made in press freedom globally, media practitioners continue to face challenges in their line of duty and added that such challenges were, sometimes, state-sponsored.

 

Delivering a speech at the World Press Freedom Day Awards Dinner in Accra on Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo entreated governments across the world to create the right atmosphere to encourage free speech and vibrant media.

 

He said the media, when given the necessary support, could help quicken the development of every society and indicated that “democracy has no place for a media that does not keep the government on its toes”.

 

He stressed the need for regular media training, self-regulation, media ethics, and high journalistic standards to help address the shortfalls in the country’s media industry.

 

President Akufo-Addo expressed optimism that Ghanaians would continue to defend the right to free expression to the very end, because of their determination to build a free, open society with accountable governance.

 

According to President Akufo-Addo, Ghanaians have manifested, in the 4th Republic, their deep attachment to the principles of democratic accountability, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the rule of law.

 

President Akufo-Addo said the existing laws, which were continued in force by the same Constitution, contained colonial laws that were manifestly anti-libertarian, and repressive of free expression.

 

“That is why, as Attorney General, under the government of the great Ghanaian statesman, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, I led the process, in Parliament, for the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law. The repeal, when it occurred, on July 27, 2001, was a very happy day for me, representing one of the high points of my public career,” the President said.

 

He continued, “The repeal has had a very positive impact on the development of the Ghanaian media, freeing it from unnecessary self-censorship, and promoting a robust and critical media culture.”

 

He said the repeal of the criminal libel law had contributed to the growth of a vibrant media that had won Ghana the reputation of having one of the most media friendly and liberal climates on the continent.

 

“It has also contributed significantly to the deepening of democracy in our country, enhancing public accountability as a strategic goal of public policy.”

 

“The parlous justification, proffered for the retention of the Criminal Libel Law, has been that its repeal has made Ghanaian media practitioners reckless and unprofessional in their work, thereby, at times, damaging the good name and image of public figures, and endangering society as a whole,” he said.

 

But that, not withstanding, President Akufo-Addo believes that a free and vibrant media was necessary for the country’s democratic development and for ensuring accountability in governance.

 

BY YAW KYEI

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