Journalists charged to deepen press freedom in Ghana

Mr Gyan Apenten  (inset) addrssing the media

Mr Gyan Apenten (inset) addrssing the media

Media practitioners across the country have been charged to take advantage of constitutional provisions that guarantee the rights of journalists to deepen press freedom in the country.

The Chairman of the National Media Commission, Nana Kwasi Gyan-Appenteng who gave the advice in an interview yesterday identified the Constitution as the surest tool that could protect journalists in the discharge of their duties, hence must be well utilised.

Speaking on the backdrop of Ghana’s recent ranking on the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI), the NMC Chairman pointed out that “we are here because of the 1992 Constitution which calls for press freedom and by extension freedom of expression and not because successive governments have been benevolent to the media.”

“The Constitution is the source of our freedom and we must safeguard it. Journalists must study the laws, know what our rights are and insist through laid down procedures that our rights are respected in case of violations.”

Mr  Appenteng noted that though Ghana had made significant strides in press freedom following the repeal of the criminal libel law, media plurality among others, more could be done to consolidate the gains made.

“This year’s theme for the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) calls on us to hold those in power accountable to ensure they do the right thing with the media and we must begin to do just that.

Press Freedom is not only for journalists but the society as a whole. Freedom and independence of the media means that the larger society has greater access and a voice to express their views without fear or favour” he said.

Mr Appenteng who is also the president of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) however called for increased public education and strengthening of the Commission and other key stakeholder institutions to better champion press freedom in the country so that “people understand where to go to if they feel the media is infringing on their rights and the media as well knows where to channel their grievances if authorities overstep their bounds.”

Mr Appenteng further urged the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to step up its game in negotiating for better conditions of service and safety for its members to in turn promote highest standards in the industry.

Ghana ranked first in Africa and 23rd globally in the latest WPFI by Reporters Without Borders.

It moved three places up from 26 to 23 in the report beating countries like Namibia which placed 26 this year with Norway taking the number one slot on the global index.

Flanking Ghana were Samoa at 22 and Latvia at 24, with South Africa taking the 28th place on the index.

By Abigail Annoh    

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