Ghana drops two places on Press Freedom Index
Ghana has dropped two places on the 2023 World Press Freedom Index from 60 in 2022 to 62.
The country scored 65.93 out of a possible 100, from the 67.43 it scored in the 2022 ranking of 180 countries.
The latest ranking places Ghana in the ninth position in Africa, behind Namibia, 80.91, South Africa, 78.6, Cape Verde, 75.72, Seychelles 75.71, Gambia, 71.06, Ivory Coast 68.83, Burkina Faso, 67.64, and Niger 66.84.
This is Ghana’s second consecutive drop on the log from the 30th position it occupied in the 2021 edition of the ranking.
Ghana, the report indicated, placed 63rdon the political indicator, 80thon the economic indicator, 31st on the legislative log, 47th under the social indicator and 103rd on the security indicator.
According to the index which evaluates the environment for journalism in 180 countries and territories and published on World Press Freedom Day – May 3 – by Reporters Without Borders, political ownership of media outlets has affected media content in the country.
“Regarded as one of Africa’s most democratic countries, Ghana enjoys a vibrant and pluralist media environment. However, the creation of media outlets by politicians has given rise to politicised and biased media content,” the report said.
“Journalists’ safety (in Ghana)has seriously deteriorated in recent years,” the report noted,and cited the arrest and detention of three journalists in a spate of eight days in February 2022, and a fourth “very violently attacked”.
“In May 2022, three unidentified individuals stormed into a radio station, smashed equipment and attacked the host and the producer of the show being broadcast. Politicians have, meanwhile, continued to make death threats against investigative journalists. Most cases of police violence against journalists are not pursued.”
The report observed that though Ghana is considered a regional model of democratic stability, journalists have experienced growing pressures in recent years.
“To protect their jobs and their security, they have increasingly resorted to self-censorship as the government has shown itself to be intolerant of criticism. In addition, a third of the country’s media outlets is owned by politicians or by people with ties to the leading political parties, and the content they produce is largely partisan.”
Freedom of the press, the report, however, said, is guaranteed by the 1992 constitution which makes media outlets to operate freely as they wish, only subject to the National Media Commission’s regulations.
It said despite the passage of the Right To Information Act, which gives journalists more access to information from official government sources, a clause in the law which allows a fee to be charged if the information requested is in a language other than English has been used to deny journalists access to the information they seek.
Culture, the report identified, has never been an obstacle to practising journalism in Ghana because there’s a general cultural and religious tolerance in the country, allowing journalists to cover all social issues without any particular difficulty and without the fear of reprisals.
On the global outlook, the report said the environment for journalism was ‘bad’ in seven out of ten countries, and satisfactory in only three out of ten countries.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI