Press freedom is a cornerstone of any democratic society. It is crucial in ensuring that citizens are informed about critical issues and serves as a watchdog for the government.

Unfortunately, press freedom in Ghana has been on a downward trend in recent years, according to the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2023 Press Freedom Index.

Ghana’s ranking in the index has slipped to its worst performance in 18 years, dropping from 60th to 62nd place, despite an improvement in its position among African countries.

The situation in Africa is particularly worrying, with almost 40% of countries classified as having a “bad situation for journalism.”

This trend is concerning, and it is essential to identify the factors contributing to this decline.

One of the primary factors identified in the report is the restrictive provisions of the Electronic Communications Act and the Criminal and Other Offences Act.

These laws stifle free expression and curtail press freedom, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to press freedom.

Journalists in Ghana face safety concerns, particularly those who investigate corruption and wrongdoing.

The safety of journalists has significantly deteriorated in recent years, as highlighted by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).

State agencies, including the police, military, and political operatives, have been identified as the worst perpetrators of violations against journalists.

Journalists have reported incidents of threats, arrests, detentions, and even torture.

The MFWA’s reports on the media space in West Africa reveal alarming violations, ranging from physical attacks and unwarranted sentencing to media shut-downs and destruction of journalists’ equipment.

Despite the gravity of these attacks, perpetrators often go unpunished, raising concerns about accountability and the judicial response.

The government must take swift and decisive action to address these issues and ensure the safety of journalists.

President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government has faced criticism for its response to press freedom.

The administration’s record has been disappointing, with a sluggish response to attacks on journalists and a failure to condemn violence in some cases. 

The assassination of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale, which occurred under Akufo-Addo’s watch, is a glaring example of the government’s insufficient protection of journalists.

Ghana’s decline in the 2023 Press Freedom Index highlights the need for action to protect press freedom.

The government must take a more active role in upholding press freedom, and law enforcement agencies and the judiciary must hold those who violate press freedom accountable.

Civil society organizations have a crucial role to play in advocating for the safety of journalists.

Press freedom is critical in ensuring a healthy and robust democracy, and it is essential that Ghana takes the necessary steps to protect it.