The President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Affail Monney, says he is worried about the rapid decline of Press Freedom in the country, describing the safety and other working conditions of the average Ghanaian journalist as “not well”.
According to Mr Monney, a few years ago, Ghana was doing better in the global rankings in terms of media freedom and had a good reputation in Africa and across the world.
“A debate is raging as we speak about the impact of the attacks of scandalous frequency on journalists. We have a position that we came a long way, in terms of Press Freedom and the empirical ranking by Reporters without Borders, and last year we were perching on top of the league tables”, he said.
The GJA president, however, stated that the recent harassment and killings of journalists have made Ghana dropped off the charts.
“We were 1st in Africa and 23rd globally. But because of a litany of attacks, which were headlined by the assassination in the most tragic circumstances of Ahmed Suale, we lost our 1st position and now we are 3rd, and from 23rd globally to 27th globally. This tells you that there has been a decline of press freedom in Ghana”, he revealed.
Mr Monney made it clear that even though the press is not free like it should be in the country, it does not mean that journalists lack their freedom to operate totally.
“All is not well with the media environment but this is not to say Ghana is bereft of press freedom”, he said.
He suggested that the only way perpetrators of harassment and killing of journalists would be stopped is when they are punished according to the law.
“Allow the law to bite, allow the law to work. We are in a law and order community. We are in the rule of law dispensation. And in the rule of law dispensation, no one, not even the president is above the law. So anyone who finds himself/herself on the wrong side of the law should be made to taste the biting edge of the law”, he said.
According to Mr Monney, the fact that some people are exempted from the injurious consequences of harassing journalists have further increased the act.
“Impunity is the root cause of the attacks against journalists. Because the perpetrators are not found in most cases. And when even they are identified, they are left off the hook”, he said.
He shared his hope in the justice of the killing of ace investigative reporter Ahmed Suale, as the president had said, there would be further probing into the case.
“Yesterday, we heard the president assuring the nation, the killers of Ahmed Suale will be found. This is so refreshing. He is the Commander in Chief, he has access to information we don’t have. For all you know, he knows where the investigations have gone to identify the perpetrators of the heinous crime against Ahmed Suale”, he concluded.