Ghana has maintained its 2020 spot on the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
The latest report by Reporters Without Borders saw Ghana ranking 30 out of 180 countries assessed, the same position it attained in the 2020 report, although its indicative points improved.
Worthy of note is that Ghana’s current ranking, like in 2013 and 2020, is the lowest the country has recorded.
On Ghana, the report referenced the failure of state authorities to investigate and prosecute persons involved in the gruesome killing of TigerEye PI’s Ahmed Suale after the production of the controversial ‘Number12’ investigative documentary on corruption in Ghana football as the reason why Ghana’s ranking did not improve.
“A ruling party parliamentarian who had been named in the documentary publicly threatened one of the journalists without ever being arrested or questioned. The journalist was shot dead in the street a few months later. The investigation announced by the authorities has ground to a halt. Investigative reporters are often threatened even though journalists are rarely arrested,” the report stated.
Again, it said many cases of police aggression against journalists have gone unpunished although “timid attempts have been made to combat this impunity.”
The report also said some journalists covering the effectiveness of the government’s measures against COVID-19 were attacked by police in 2020.
Speaking about the press freedom situation in Africa in general, the report mentioned that state-owned media continued to serve as propaganda tools of governments with no signs of being independent in the short term.
The report also highlighted the fact that many governments were implementing new laws under the pretext of combating disinformation and hate speech but were actually means of gagging journalists.
“On the pretext of combating disinformation and hate speech, many countries have adopted new laws in recent years with vague and draconian provisions that can easily be used to gag journalists.”
It also observed the growing incidents of online attacks especially by trolls connected to governments with the plan to “discredit or intimidate journalists.”
“African journalists were hit hard by the coronavirus crisis in 2020, suffering three times as many attacks and arrests from 15 March to 15 May as during the same period the year before, according to RSF’s tally,” the report added.
Despite the flaws in Ghana’s press freedom situation, it is among the few bright spots in Africa.
Together with Burkina Faso, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, Ghana’s situation is rated as “satisfactory.”
The countries with the worst press freedom situation in Africa, according to the report are Libya, Somalia, Egypt, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea.
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The World Press Freedom Index is based on questionnaires sent to experts around the world, combined with data gathered on abuse and acts of violence against journalists.
Different criteria including pluralism, media independence and self-censorship are considered in putting together the report.