Ghana has moved three steps up from the 23rd to 26th position on the World Press Freedom Index released today by the press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Borders. The Index ranks 180 countries of the world. On top at number one is Norway and at the bottom is North Korea.
At the rank of 23, Ghana is the top country in Africa for press freedom, followed by Namibia at 26 and South Africa at 28.
Ghana occupied the 26th position in 2016 and 2017.
While acknowledging the freedom of the media guaranteed under Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution, Reporters Without Borders pointed out that there is limited media independence.
“Ghana is regarded as one of the most democratic countries in Africa and Chapter 12 of its 1992 constitution guarantees media pluralism and independence. But only a very small number of media outlets provide good news coverage,” adding, “A third of the media are owned by the state or by businessmen linked to the government. The lack of transparency that characterizes the media industry is compounded by a flawed regulatory system that tends to limit the freedom to inform,” it said.
This report covers information collected in 2017 and therefore doesn’t appear to take into account the recent increasing spate of police arrests and brutalities against journalists in Ghana.
More than 17 journalists have been attacked in the last 15 months alone around the country.
There have also been growing incidents of police arrests of journalists simply doing their job. In one incident, police beat up a journalist for asking a simple question while covering a protest. The police beat him with batons and gun butts. He was later diagnosed by doctors to have suffered a broken skull.
Only this week, Monday April 23, 2018 another reporter was arrested on a court premises in Accra for taking photos of suspects coming out of the court building. He was only released after his employers called the police hierarchy and complained.
Political party foot-soldiers also often target and attack journalists on duty.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi