Minister urges media to support World Press Freedom Day 2018
Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, Minister of Information, on Monday urged the press to support the organisation of the 25th global celebration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), slated for May 3rd to 4th in Accra.
The global event, on the theme, “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law”, is being organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in collaboration with the Government of Ghana.
It is under the co-chairmanship of Mr Tirso A. S. Dos Santos, Head of Office and Representative of UNESCO to Ghana and Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, a Deputy Minister of Information.
The event would bring together over 700 leading actors from the media, civil society, policy makers, representatives of the judiciary, and academia to discuss latest developments and pressing challenges related to press freedom and the safety of journalists.
The main celebration in Accra is expected to be reinforced by some 100 national events the world over.
During the celebration, participants would explore the media and the judiciary’s respective roles in ensuring the rule of law, including in times of elections, and in safeguarding the fundamental right to freedom of expression and addressing crimes against journalists.
The Accra event is expected to include a range of plenary and breakout sessions, an academic conference on safety of journalists, a youth newsroom and photo exhibitions.
Speaking at the launch of the 2018 WPFD, Dr Abdul-Hamid urged the media to support and overwhelmingly participated in the event.
He lauded UNESCO for choosing Ghana to host the 25th WPFD over other bigger nations.
“And for them to choose or agree to ask us, a small country of a population of less than 30 million to host rather than those that have literally billions of people in their country, speaks volumes about our own credentials as a country with regards to where we have come from in terms of the freedom of the press,” he said.
He said the 26th position that Ghana holds on the league table of the 2017 World Press Freedom index, did not come by accident; declaring that “it has come by dent of hard work from the Ghanaian people, from civil society organisations, from members of the media fraternity and also from politicians”.
Dr Adbul-Hamid said Ghana currently had over 350 active radio stations across the country, more than 45 newspapers and more than 16 local television stations; stating that this kind of credentials are very rare on our African continent”.
He said many people all over the world were very proud of what Ghanaians had achieved for themselves.
He said the Government would continue to uphold human rights in the country, and that it would also ensure that, no journalist faces a threat of arrest or intimation in the discharge of his or her duties.
He said the Right to Information Bill, which was currently before Parliament would be passed into law by the close of the year.
He said the media played a crucial role in a nation’s socio-economic development and contributed significantly to the rule of law.
He said press freedom had led to free societies, helped build strong public institutions and educational institutions.
Mr Dos Santos said the WPFD celebration found its origin in the Windhoek Declaration, calling for media pluralism and independence, adopted in 1991 in Namibia.
He said since 1993, WPFD had been the UN International Day on freedom of expression and press freedom.
He said this year’s celebration focuses on the role of the media in speaking truth to power and ensuring accountability of institutions and policymakers.
Mr Dos Santos said as a highlight of the Accra conference, there would be the award ceremony of the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on the evening of May 2.
He explained that the Prize awards a journalist who stood his/her ground in the defense of press freedom; adding, that “the winner will be announced shortly”.
Mr Affail Monney, President, Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), said freedom was the essence of the media profession; and that freedom was also the oxygen of democracy.
He also urged the media fraternity to ensure the successful organisation of the WPFD in Accra.
Mr Andrews Danso Anninkora, President, Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), appealed to it members to release their resources towards the organisation of the 2018 WPFD.