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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

From 30th to 60th : Ghana’s deteriorating press freedom reflects in 2022 Press Freedom Index

According to Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 Press Freedom Index, Ghana has slipped thirty places from 30th to 60th place out of 180 nations. The West African nation with a thirty million population ranked 30th on the global index in 2021, but an increase in attacks on journalists in the line of duty has harmed the country famed for its democratic achievements on the African continent.

Ghana also dropped from 3rd to 9th in Africa falling below countries under military rule like Burkina Faso which ranked 41st in the world and 5th in Africa.

Between the second quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, at least eight journalists, including a freelancer, were beaten, arrested, or arbitrarily detained in police custody. The economic situation, politics, legal framework, social, and security of journalists are key indicators for the 67.43 score.

“Journalists’ safety has deteriorated sharply in recent years. In 2020, reporters covering the effectiveness of anti-Covid-19 measures were attacked by security forces. And political leaders are again making death threats against investigative journalists. Nearly all cases of law enforcement officers attacking journalists are not pursued,” the report stated.

Self-censorship and an increase in attacks on journalists, according to RsF, have contributed to the recent disturbing trend in press suppression. According to the survey, media ownership that is heavily political has an impact on the material generated.
“Although the country is considered a regional leader in democratic stability, journalists have experienced growing pressures in recent years. To protect their jobs and their security, they increasingly resort to self-censorship, as the government shows itself intolerant of criticism. In addition, one-third of media outlets are owned by politicians or by people tied to the top political parties. The content they produce is largely partisan,” the 2022 index said.

Figures:

Since April 2021 (one year ago), RSF has recorded 19 exactions, including:
– 10 arrests/detentions (short)

– 7 cases of brutality against journalists

– 2 cases of threats

Since the beginning of 2022, RSF has recorded 10 cases of abuse, including
– 4 arrests/detentions (short)

– 6 cases of brutality against journalists

Economic context

In Ghana, most media outlets face financial problems, reflected in low salaries and poor working conditions for journalists. Frequently, new newspapers are launched only to fold in a few months, due to the inability to meet production costs. State-owned media, for their part, benefit from government advertising contracts and payment for publishing news items. Government advertising is awarded through a non-transparent and inequitable process.

Legal Framework
Although Ghana passed the Right to Information Law, which guarantees journalists access to information, public institutions have routinely used a clause in the law that requires journalists to pay for the translation of information into languages other than English to deny journalists access to the information they seek.
“Press freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution of 1992. Media are free to operate as they like, in accordance with the regulations of the National Media Commission. The 2019 information access law authorises journalists to demand information of national interest. However, a clause in the law allows a fee to be charged if the information requested is in a language other than English – a provision used to deny journalists access to the information they seek,” the report added.
The different facets of Africa
Press freedom has many facets in Africa, ranging from the abundance of media outlets in Senegal (73rd) and South Africa (35th) to the deafening silence of privately owned media in Eritrea (179th) and Djibouti (164th).

Despite a wave of liberalisation in the 1990s, there are still, too often, cases of arbitrary censorship, especially on the internet with occasional network shutdowns in some countries, arrests of journalists and violent attacks. These usually go completely unpunished, as was the case with the 2016 disappearance of Malian journalist Birama Touré, who – as RSF demonstrated – was kidnapped by a Malian intelligence agency and most likely killed while secretly detained.

In recent years, a wave of draconian laws criminalising online journalism has dealt a new blow to the right to information. At the same time, the spread of rumours, propaganda, and disinformation has contributed to the undermining of journalism and access to quality information.

Often poorly supported by the government and still largely dependent on the editorial dictates of their owners, African media outlets struggle to develop sustainable economic models. Nonetheless, the recent emergence of coalitions of investigative journalists has resulted in major revelations about matters of public interest.

Long suffocated by dictatorships, the media landscape has opened up to varying degrees in countries like Angola (99th), Zimbabwe (137th) and Ethiopia (114th) but, in most cases, the repression of dissident journalists persists.

In the Sahel, insecurity and political instability have sharply increased, and there have been recent, major blows to journalism. In 2021, two Spanish journalists were killed in Burkina Faso (41st), a French reporter, Olivier Dubois, was kidnapped by an armed group in Mali (111th) and several journalists were expelled from Benin (121st) Mali, and Burkina Faso.

Source: www.zamireports.com with sources from Reporters Without Borders.

 

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