GJA President Affail Monney

President of the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA), Roland Affail Monney, says the country’s performance in the 2022 Press Freedom Index should not be blamed on the ruling government entirely.

According to him, the report put together by the Reporters Without Borders did not suggest anywhere that the government should take all blame.

He argued in an interview on Newsfile that most media managers and institutions are responsible for the current trend in media freedom in the country.

“In fact, the government is prominent on the guilty list because of the actions and inactions by state and non-state actors; for instance, National Security operatives, they work directly under a Minister who is an official of the government; so, they should take the blame.

“But when it comes to the issue of poor remuneration, we have a media space which is knitted by private institutions, and many of them pay their workers straight wages and this is not the doing of the government. It will not be fair to blame the government for this situation,” he contested on Saturday, May 7.

Affail Monney contended that the report, although not so positive, does not spell doom for Ghana.

He said the current situation does not put the country in a manner not to be able to regain its past press freedom glory.

“There is a direct relationship between conditions of service and journalistic outputs. So, if many of our people are so compromised, it’s because they are not paid well. In some worst case scenarios, journalists are not paid at all and as the saying goes, they must survive and the survival instinct pushes some of them to criminal heights and this is something we need to look.

“We can bounce back but it calls for collective action and one of the actions outlined in the response by the Information Minister is education of state and non-state actors. Some of the actions are rooted in ignorance about the work of journalists.

“When you attack a single journalists, you do not only attack all journalists, you attack the very soul of this country, which is democracy. So, in many instances, our soul has been bleeding profusely from such attacks,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has condemned portions of the 2022 World Press Freedom Index which tagged the Akufo-Addo administration as “intolerant of criticism from citizens and the media.”

The Party argued that, in contrast, the media under the NPP is the freest ever.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, NPP’s Director of Communications, Yaw Boaben Asamoa noted that the party’s contribution to the growth of the media under the Fourth Republic is rather exceptional.

“The NPP believes Ghana’s media is the freest ever and that its contribution to media growth are unparalleled in the Fourth Republic.

“In sum, NPP decriminalised speech, supported infrastructure and training with the International Press Centre and support funds and improved spectrum allocations and regulatory oversight,” he said.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in its 2022 Press Freedom Index noted that journalists in Ghana have in recent years experienced “growing pressures” from the government in their line of duty.

According to the report, this has led journalists in the country to “increasingly resort to self-censorship” in order to protect their jobs and security.

The report also bewailed the safety of journalists in recent years.

But the NPP, during its press conference, questioned the validity and authenticity of such claims by the RSF.

“Recent reports both internal and external, hyperbolically declaiming the supposed laws of media freedoms in Ghana are painting and playing up a picture of systematic harassment against free speech. But is it truly the case and does mainstream media and civil society organisations experience that in their daily lives and activities?

“Moreover, is free speech limitless and can it be mischievously used as an instrument to foster instability? These are key questions, objective answers to which can dampen the scurrilous damage to our hard-earned political stability and potential growth in the name of regime change,” he said.