The Index, which ranks 180 countries according to things like media independence, self-censorship, rule of law and transparency, indicates that every region in the world saw a major decline.
Published today April 20, 2016 Ghana has dropped four steps from 22 on the 2015 Index to 26 among a ranking of 180 countries in 2016.
“The situation of journalists in Ghana has worsened since 2014 although this country, governed by John Dramani Mahama since 2012, is regarded as a democratic model in Africa,” the group says.
Making reference to the Media Foundation For West Africa, it said in 2014 the group registered nine physical attacks on journalists, as well as several arrests and raids on newspapers.
“These attacks take advantage of a climate of impunity and flawed media legislation. Articles in the criminal code penalizing “false news” are sometimes abused in order to harass journalists,” it added.
Ghana had an overall score of 17. 95. The country freest for journalists in the world is Finland with an overall score of 8.59, while Namibia tops the ranking in Africa with an overall score of 15.15. At the bottom of the global ranking is Eritrea with an overall score of 83.92.
The group states that there is a “deep and disturbing decline” in press freedom in 2015, as war, organized crime and corruption, among other concerns, had led to a clampdown on free speech.
It notes that most of the movement in the Index is indicative of a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control over newsrooms by governments and private-sector interests around the world.
In Africa, it says media freedom violations seem to be taking a growing toll on journalists.
“The biggest deterioration was seen in South Sudan (140th), which fell 15 places in the Index. In this country torn by civil war since 2013, journalists fell victim to the conflict’s violence and a campaign of intimidation by the authorities,” it says.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi