The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called on government to deal with impunity bedeviling the media landscape by prosecuting and punishing perpetrators.
According to the GJA, attackers of journalists regardless of their material wealth, social status or political links should be punished to the fullest extent within the law.
This, the Association noted, is the least action expected of a country touted for its fidelity to the rule of law and not the rule of men.
GJA President Affail Monney made the call at Flag-Raising on Monday to commemorate World Press Freedom Day 2020 at the Ghana International Press Centre last Sunday.
He noted that a common thread that runs through Ghana’s backsliding on the global league table of free media from 2018 to 2020 is impunity.
“Impunity, if not checked, ignites a self-propelling and re- energizing cycle which then becomes hellishly difficult to uproot,” he warned.
He urged government to therefore implement immediately the Monitoring Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists that has been incubating since last year.
He argued, however, that even at the 30th position Ghana’s media system is well at the optimistic end of the spectrum, adjudged as satisfactory by global benchmark and outranking paragons of journalism like the US, UK and France.
This, he stressed, should however not give room for any narcotic feeling of complacency adding, “We must take all steps and move all out to salvage our achievements in media freedom and functional democracy.”
Mr. Affail Monney observed that the theme for the celebration, “Journalism Without Fear or Favour,” reinforces the point that journalism is not a profession for timid, timorous souls but one for brave and uncompromising characters.
According to him, this tough, indomitable steak enables journalists to talk true to power, expose acts of corruption and hold the powerful to account.
“The GJA specially salutes such special stalwarts on this special Day,” he added.
The GJA president commended the indispensable role the media is playing in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The importance of the traditional media and the need for reliable and accuracy, he said, become more paramount in an increasingly complex landscape ignited by citizens’ right to the use of social media.
May 3 every year has been designated World Press Freedom Day by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993, following a recommendation by the UNESCO General Conference, concerning the Windhoek Declaration.
This was after a statement of press freedom principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991 at a UNESCO seminar held in the Namibian capital in 1991.
It among other things, asserted that a free press is essential to democracy and fundamental human rights.
According to Mr. Monney, the GJA made Ghana proud for being one of the first countries in Africa and indeed the world, to start the commemoration of the day.
The GJA in 1994 with sponsorship by Fredrich Ebert Foundation (FES) held its first event, which has since, continued religiously, the celebration of the day with support from UNESCO, FES or Accra Brewery Limited.