Ghana has dropped 30 places in the latest press freedom index put together by Reporters Without Borders.
The report comes on the back of recent reports that the Ghanaian government has been clamping down on dissent and claims of a surge in press freedom violations.
On February 10, 2022, an Accra FM presenter, Kwabena Bobbie Ansahm was arrested on a charge of “publication of false news and offensive conduct” for posting a video on social media, claiming the First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, had allegedly obtained state land in order to build the headquarters for a foundation.
This claim was false, the Police investigation said.
Godsbrain Smart of Onua TV was also arrested for an alleged case of extortion, although some have claimed it has to do with his fierce criticisms of government.
The report released to commemorate international Press Freedom Day scored Ghana 67.43, placing Ghana 60th on the index that monitors 180 countries.
This ranking is the lowest the country has ever seen in the past 17 years since it placed 66th in 2005.
In 2021, Ghana was placed 30th out of 180 countries with a score of 78.67.
On the African continent, the country was ranked 10th behind a number of African countries, including Burkina-Faso which ranked 6th on the continent.
The report says “government has shown itself intolerant of criticism. In addition, one third of media outlets are owned by politicians or by people tied to the top political parties. The content they produce is largely partisan.”It continued that “press freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution of 1992. Media are free to operate as they like, in accordance with the regulations of the National Media Commission. The 2019 information access law authorises journalists to demand information of national interest.”
“However, a clause in the law allows a fee to be charged if the information requested is in a language other than English – a provision used to deny journalists’ access to the information they seek.”
It also stated that journalists in Ghana are poorly remunerated.
Journalists’ safety has deteriorated sharply in recent years. In 2020, reporters covering the effectiveness of anti-Covid-19 measures were attacked by security forces.
Also, political leaders are making death threats against investigative journalists. Nearly all cases of law enforcement officers attacking journalists are not pursued, the report concluded.