Blame Government’s continuous denial for the drop in press freedom ranking – Sulemana Braimah

The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah says the government is to be blamed for the country’s continuous drop in press freedom.

According to him, the government has failed to heed calls by stakeholders on the need to improve media freedom in the country.

“The problem is because we have a government that seems to be living in some self-denial, you present the fact and it is denied and one can make mention of a number of instances.

“So we kept warning, ringing the alarm bells that, look press freedom conditions are getting worse and this was way back in 2019 that we need to begin to do something about our press freedom conditions,” he said on Saturday.

Speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile, he explained that the government had further worsened the conditions of the press by reducing its rights and freedoms to a debate.

“We were repeatedly told that is not the case, to a point where the president himself now decided to reduce the whole issue to a debate about whether or not journalists can criticise.

“He says we are crying over press freedom because ‘journalists do not want to be criticised when they are criticised, they term that an attack.’

“So it got to the point where you have party officials, political appointees referencing that statement and saying ‘journalists, they think they cannot be criticised, when you criticise them, they say you are attacking them,” he said.

Recounting an occurrence, he said, “In early 2020, …the Bobie Ansah and a few others had happened and again we started ringing the alarm bell. We had one of the presidential advisors on media, Madam Elizabeth Ohene, actually writing a piece literally attacking the MFWA accusing us of being biased against the government.”

He continued; “The problem really is about a government that is not prepared to accept the fact and then we deal with it.”

A ranking by Reporters Without Borders concludes that Ghana has dropped from 60th in 2021 to 62nd globally, and 10th in Africa.

This is Ghana’s lowest-ever ranking in almost two decades after it ranked 66th and 67th in 2005 and 2002 respectively.

The latest report is out of 180 countries assessed with Ghana recording a decline in its indicative points from 78.67 percent to 67.43 compared to last year.

Also recently, the US Department of State released its 2021 annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which reports on key human rights issues in various countries across the world including Ghana.

The report cited Ghana for a number of human rights abuses including clamping down on free speech.

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