Ghana has become less safe for journalists, losing its status as Africa’s highest-ranked country, according to a new report by an international press freedom organization.
Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) dropped Ghana to 27th place out of 180 countries on its annual World Press Freedom Index.
Ghana fell four places from its 2018 ranking of 23 on account of what the RSF described as "not enough protection for journalists" following the shooting of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale and threats on the lives of members of the Tiger Eye PI investigative group.
According to the RSF, investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his Tiger Eye team spent part of 2018 in hiding after producing a documentary about Ghanaian soccer corruption which led to the resignation of FIFA Council member and former GFA President Kwesi Nyantakyi.
Investigative journalist Hussein-Suale who was gunned down by two suspected gunmen on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 in Accra was a key member of the Tiger Eye PI sting operation which implicated Mr Nyantakyi in a corruption scandal. The findings of the sting were published in a documentary titled #Number12 on June 6, 2018.
"A ruling party parliamentarian who had been named in the documentary publicly threatened one of the journalists without ever being sanctioned. The journalist (Hussein-Suale) was shot dead in the street a few months later," the RSF said.
"Journalists are rarely arrested but several were attacked with impunity in 2018, in some cases by police officers. Although Ghana continues to be seen as one of the most democratic countries in Africa and Chapter 12 of its 1992 constitution guarantees media pluralism and independence, a third of the media are owned by the state or by businessmen linked to the government".
Ghana’s worst ranking on the World Press Freedom Index was in 2013 when it ranked 30th and its best was in 2015 ranking 22nd. In 2014 Ghana was ranked 27th and maintained the 26th spot in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Globally Scandinavian countries; Norway, Finland and Sweden topped the rankings in first, second and third place respectively.
The Netherlands (fourth) and Denmark (fifth) completed the top five ranked nations.
Namibia, 23rd, is now the highest ranked African country with Cape Verde, 25th, and South Africa and Burkina Faso in 31st and 36th place respectively.
The United Kingdom was 33rd and the United States dropped three notches to 48th from a "satisfactory" place to work freely to a "problematic" one for journalists.