Manasseh Azure Awuni, an award-winning investigative journalist, believes President Akufo-Addo and his government’s lackadaisical attitude toward press freedom in Ghana is highly concerning.
Various state actors close to the Presidency, he claimed, have been involved in attacks on journalists in recent years. Despite this, none has received the President’s full attention and sanction.
He voiced deep dissatisfaction in the recurring threats and murders of media practitioners, citing the arrests of ASEPA’s Mensah Thompson, Citi TV’s Caleb Kudah, and Accra FM’s Bobie Ansah, among others.
Mr Azure claimed the President’s body language pushes his party followers to continue targeting journalists, based on Ghana’s performance in the World Press Freedom Index.
“If you read the Information Minister’s press announcement from last year, they identified other countries that did poorly in comparison to their previous rankings.”
“Now, we have Ahmed Suale, who was murdered after being openly threatened by a top politician from the ruling party, and we had the President of this country go to the Bar conference in Takoradi and say that, as unfortunate as his death was, it was equally unfortunate for people to say that his killing was linked to press freedom.”
“When the President acts in this manner, his supporters begin to believe that it is acceptable for us to do whatever we want to journalists,” he explained.
Ghana fell 30 places in the latest Press Freedom Index, from – 30th in 2021 to 60th in 2022, its lowest ranking in 17 years, since it was 66th in 2005.
The study is based on recent reports that the Ghanaian government has been cracking down on dissent and that press freedom violations have increased.
Ghana was ranked 60th on the index, which monitors 180 nations, in a study released to honor International Press Freedom Day.
In comparison to last year, Ghana’s indicative points fell from 78.67 percent to 67.43 percent.
“The contrast is clearer than day and night,” Manasseh says, because “not only have we noticed an increase in attacks, but we’re also looking at the severity and the actors engaged.”
“It was fairly usual to threaten someone, and one would dismiss it; nevertheless, if your colleague investigative journalist is threatened on television and later slain, you will handle threats more seriously and differently.”
“Also, we’re starting to see state entities get engaged, such as the National Security, which we know in Ghana is basically an extension of the government or the ruling party.” So, we witnessed what the National Security did to the Modern Ghana writer – to this day, we haven’t been told what crime this journalist committed, other than the fact that he published something disagreeable about the National Security Minister at the time.”
NPP criticizes parts of the Press Freedom Index.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has slammed parts of the World Press Freedom Index for 2022, which labeled the Akufo-Addo administration “intolerant of citizen and media criticism.”
The NPP, on the other hand, claims to have the most free media in history.
Yaw Boaben Asamoa, the Party’s Director of Communications, stated during a press conference on Wednesday that the party’s contribution to the expansion of the media under the Fourth Republic has been extraordinary.
“The NPP believes Ghana’s media is the most free it has ever been, and that its contribution to media expansion in the Fourth Republic is unprecedented.”
“To summarize, NPP decriminalized speech while also supporting infrastructure and training with the International Press Centre and support money, as well as better spectrum allocations and regulatory monitoring,” he stated.