The Board Chairman of Graphic Communication Group, Professor Kwame Karikari, has called for the removal of portions of the law which pose a threat to media practice in the country. He noted that despite the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law in 2001, there are still certain aspects of the law which remain a major hindrance to press freedom in Ghana.
“It is important also to recall that there are still on the books some legislations that pose threats to press freedom. One of them is the provision on “false publication” or false news, which remained when the libel and seditious libel provisions in the Criminal Code, Act 29 1960 were repealed in 2001 under the government of President John Agyekum Kufuor, an exercise that was championed by the then Attorney-General and now the President, Akufo-Addo,” he stated.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa and the Ghana Journalists Association in Accra, Professor Karikari, said press freedom was in recession and might soon go into extinction if practicable measures were not taken to check the situation.
The meeting, which formed part of the World Press Freedom Day celebration, was aimed at discussing and finding ways of preserving press freedom and protecting and ensuring the safety of journalists in the country.
May 3 is commemorated globally as World Press Freedom Day (WPFD). The day is set aside to celebrate press freedom success, assess and discuss press freedom challenges, emerging issues and the way forward.
It is also used to pay tribute to journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty or demonstrated exceptional courage by working in very dangerous environments.
A communique issued by the Foundation on the safety of Journalists in Ghana in Accra, lamented that 11 of the 22 the violations recorded from February 2018 to March 2019 were direct attacks on journalists, a situation which had led to the country dropping four places from 23 to 27 in the 2019 edition of the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters without Borders.
Giving a breakdown of the violations, the communique said six of the violations were perpetrated by security agents, seven by political party affiliates, eight by individuals and one by an organised group.
Professor Karikari urged journalists to wage a war against attacks on media workers, to ensure that their lives and profession were protected.
He appealed to President Akufo-Addo to personally find an occasion to address the issue publicly.
“The threat of death to the lives of journalists is a totally new development that requires urgent concern by the government and all democracy-loving Ghanaians. The government and political parties must publicly condemn these threats and censure their comrades whose utterances and actions support violence against the media and journalists,” he said.