Ghana has dropped three places on the World Press Freedom index mainly due to the threats investigative reporters face in the country.
The 2020 index put together by campaign group, Reporters Without Borders saw Ghana ranking 30 after coming 27 in 2019.
The failure of the state to arrest and prosecute persons behind the murder of private investigator, Ahmed Suale who worked with TigerEye PI to publish a documentary that highlights corruption in football in Ghana according to the report contributed to Ghana’s current ranking on the Index.
Suale was shot twice at Madina in Accra in January 2019 after the documentary was published, leading to the head of the Ghana Football Association suffering several sanctions internationally and locally.
More than 15 months later, no one has been put before court over the offence although the Ghana Police Service said in 2019 that some persons had been arrested and over a dozen people invited for questioning.
Reporters Without Borders observed that investigative reporters in Ghana were often threatened due to their jobs as police attacks on journalists are not punished.
“Investigative reporters are often threatened even if journalists are rarely arrested. The vast majority of cases of police aggression against journalists go unpunished and yet timid attempts have been made to combat this impunity.”
The index which surveyed the state of the media in 180 countries and territories showed that Ghana came behind countries such as Spain, Carbo Verde and Lithuania.
Norway for the fourth year running topped the chart.
Ghana in 2018 hosted the global celebration of World Press Freedom Day.
Under the global theme ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’, the conference discussed how independent media can be strengthened so that it can fulfil its watchdog role – exposing electoral violations, gender-based inequalities and human rights abuses.
Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo who was the keynote speaker at the conference pledged to defend the right of the media to free expression to the very end, because of his government’s determination to build a free, open society with accountable governance.
“I will say, again, that I much prefer the noisy, boisterous, sometimes scurrilous media of today to the monotonous, praise-singing, sycophantic one of yesteryear. The Ghanaian media has, in fact, enriched the nations’ governance by its curiosity, investigative skills, and persistence,” he said.
However, there is a long list of a lot of abuses against media practitioners in the line of duty in recent times, most of which have gone unpunished.
Ghana, however, is one of five African countries whose press freedom situation has been described as satisfactory. The others are South Africa, Burkina Faso, Lesotho and Namibia.
The worst countries in Africa for press freedom are Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Libya.
Best countries for press freedom
31. South Africa
Worst countries for press freedom
180. North Korea
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.