Ghana has been for a very long time, touted as the shining light of democracy in Africa. The country has enjoyed, for all these while the spotlight as a country safe for journalists, but not anymore. The shooting to death of Ahmed Hussein-Suale mid-January 2019 has stained the country, affecting its standing in the World Press Freedom Index released Thursday April 18, 2019 by the press freedom watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
“Ghana has lost its status as Africa’s best-ranked country in the World Press Freedom Index. A group of investigative journalists had to spend part of 2018 in hiding after producing a documentary about Ghanaian soccer corruption. A ruling party parliamentarian who had been named in the documentary publicly threatened one of the journalists without ever being sanctioned. The journalist was shot dead in the street a few months later,” the RSF wrote on the Ghana page.
“Journalists are rarely arrested but several were attacked with impunity in 2018, in some cases by police officers. Although Ghana continues to be seen as one of the most democratic countries in Africa and Chapter 12 of its 1992 constitution guarantees media pluralism and independence, a third of the media are owned by the state or by businessmen linked to the government,” it added.
Ghana fell four places to rank 27 in the world. The country ranked 23 in 2018.
The Index which has been published since 2002 by the RSF is an advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states, the group says.
The Index ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country and region. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country or region, the group says.
The country on top of the Index is Norway, and the one at the bottom is Turkmenistan.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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