PARLIAMENT has celebrated journalists for their contribution to the development of the country as Ghana on Friday joined the rest of the world to mark the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD)
In comments on a statement made by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, on behalf of the Member for North Tongu, Samuel OkudzetoAblakwa, the lawmakers were unanimous on the importance of a free press to the development of the country.
Mr Ablakwa in his statement said as Ghana prepares for elections next year, the theme for this year’s WPFD “Media for Democracy: Journalism and elections in times of disinformation,” must be reflected upon as “the dangers posed by disinformation as a product of a toxic mix of abuse of technology, violation of data privacy, interference by rogue external elements and often with the active collaboration of unscrupulous insider actors” was dangerous to the country’s fledgling democracy.
“Fake News and a weaponised media that play on our fears in order to divide us must be defeated,” he emphasized.
On Ghana’s decline in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index where the country dropped from the rank of 23 to 27 and losing out as number one in Africa, Mr Ablakwa said the country had come too far to be recording attacks on journalists.
Citing the recent attack on three Ghanaian Times journalists, the North Tongu MP said “we must send a clear message to all that this nation will not countenance any abuse or attack whatsoever on journalists carrying out their legitimate duties.”
Commending the inky fraternity for entrenching what he said was a new wave of activist journalism where journalists don’t just tell the story but take up the story as a cause and pursue it until there are clear and tangible results Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said: “This is a most refreshing and inspiring development that we must all encourage and indeed provide the necessary support as a legislative arm, seeing that we are natural allies in our oversight mandate.”
In his commentary, Aowin Member, Mathias Ntow, admitted that Ghanaians were well informed about developments in the country because of the vibrant nature of the media.
Using Parliament as an example, Mr Ntow said but for the media anything the legislature does would have remained in the chamber of the House.
He was, however, concerned about the remuneration regime for journalists in the country, advocating for improved salaries for practitioners, condemned the recent attacks of some journalists and called on the state to provide them with the needed security.
Mr Ntow was of the view that when journalists are well compensated, their work would not be influenced by any financial inducement which would at the end aid in the fight against corruption.
A Deputy Communications Minister, George Nenyi Andah, on his part underscored as critical the importance of the journalists to national development.
The space for healthy conversations that border on national development which has taken centre stage in the everyday life of the country, he noted, wouldn’t have been possible if not for the plurality of the media landscape.
He said the government would continue to guarantee the freedom of the press as enshrined in the Constitution and provide protection for practitioners.
Declared in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, the day, observed on May 3 every year, was set aside to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom and expression as enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI