Sunday, June 13, 2021

We’ll make Ghana the safest place for journalists in Africa – Akufo-Addo assures

President Akufo-Addo says his administration will do all it can to make media practice safe in Ghana.

Nana Akufo-Addo says Ghana’s position as the second safest nation for practising journalism in Africa should be commended but insists that the country can do better.

Speaking at the opening of the African Journalists Leaders conference in Accra, President Akufo-Addo said recent attacks on journalists in the line of duty should be condemned by all.

“The decision to select Ghana for this year’s conference is because of the conducive environment for media practice and impressive ranking in Africa on the latest world press freedom index. Our aim is to be number one on the continent.”

“We will work hard to ensure that we attain this. It cannot be right, no matter where [you are] in the world, that journalists are physically being attacked or prevented from doing their work. Once that happens, it is an attack on media freedom and must be condemned by all,” President Akufo-Addo.

Recently, President Akufo-Addo refuted the perception that his government is overseeing a culture of silence.

The President also challenged claims that press freedom has suffered under his presidency.

“When it comes to the press, I am certain I have nothing to apologise for, with reference to anything I have ever done or said,” he said during a special congregation in his honour at the University of Cape Coast.

President Akufo-Addo again touted the role he played under the Kufuor administration in repealing the criminal libel law.

“I have been a part of and sometimes led the struggle for individual rights and freedom of the press in this country. I believe in it. it is part of my makeup.”

 Scrutiny of Akufo-Addo’s press freedom record

Though Ghana ranks 30th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern with the fact many cases of police aggression against journalists have gone unpunished.

The 2020 World Press Freedom Index report also noted that some journalists covering the effectiveness of the government’s measures against COVID-19 were attacked by police in 2020.

Over the course of the Akufo-Addo administration, the government has been criticised on these points, as well as the closure of some prominent pro-opposition radio stations.

The conduct of National Security personnel towards Citi FM journalists on May 13 was the most high-profile incident of state action so far against journalists in 2021.

One of the Citi FM journalists, Caleb Kudah, was tortured whilst in National Security custody.

Before this, the National Security personnel, in another notable incident in July 2018, arrested and tortured two journalists after the publication of an article that criticised the National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaah.

The government’s response so far to these incidents has been largely condemned, with many suggesting that it gives the impression that the state is either complicit or tacitly supports such actions against journalists.

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