Is The Media in Ghana Under Besiege?The media in Ghana has been under siege in recent years, with numerous cases of attacks on journalists and media houses. These attacks have raised concerns about the safety and freedom of journalists in Ghana, and have been attributed to a number of factors including political interference, corruption, and a lack of accountability.
One of the most high-profile cases of attacks against journalists in Ghana occurred in January 2019, when investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale was shot dead by unknown assailants in Accra. Hussein-Suale had been involved in a documentary on corruption in Ghanaian football, which had implicated high-ranking officials in the Ghana Football Association. The killing of Hussein-Suale sparked outrage among journalists and human rights activists, who called for an end to the culture of impunity surrounding attacks on the media in Ghana.
In addition to physical attacks on journalists, there have also been cases of legal harassment and intimidation. In February 2020, Ghanaian journalist and editor Clara Quansah was arrested and charged with “publication of false news” after she reported on allegations of corruption involving the Ghana Football Association. Although Quansah was later released on bail and the charges against her were dropped, the incident highlighted the ongoing challenges facing journalists in Ghana.
Political interference in the media has been a major issue in Ghana.
The recent attack on United Television (UTV) by some youth members of the governing New Patriotic Party ( NPP) and the physical attack on Citifm Reporter, Akosua Otchere by some members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are some of the undemocratic characteristics the media faces.
According to a report by the Media Foundation for West Africa, there have been numerous cases of state officials and politicians putting pressure on media houses to suppress or alter news stories that are critical of them. In some cases, journalists who refuse to comply with these demands have been fired or have faced legal action.
The media plays a crucial role in promoting accountability and transparency in government, and attacks on the media can have a chilling effect on the ability of journalists to report on issues of public interest. There is a need for greater protection for journalists in Ghana, and for the government to take meaningful action to address the culture of impunity surrounding attacks on the media.
According to the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, freedom of speech and press freedom are protected by law. Article 21(1) (a) of the Constitution states that “All persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media.” However, in practice, journalists still face various challenges in exercising their rights and fulfilling their professional duties.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) is the main professional organization for journalists in Ghana. The GJA has a mandate to promote and protect the interests of its members, promote press freedom, and defend the rights of journalists. In the wake of the recent attacks on the media, the GJA must take action to protect its members and safeguard press freedom.
The GJA can take several actions under the provisions of the 1992 Constitution. First, the GJA can use legal means to seek redress for its members who have been victims of attacks. Article 2 of the Constitution states that “the Constitution shall be the supreme law of Ghana and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.” This means that any law or action that violates the provisions of the Constitution can be challenged in court.
Second, the GJA can use its influence to engage with government officials and private sector leaders to address the challenges facing the media industry in the country. The GJA can organize meetings, conferences, and seminars to discuss issues such as media regulation, ethics, and professionalism. This will create a platform for open dialogue and constructive engagement between the media and other stakeholders.
Third, the GJA can collaborate with other civil society organizations to advocate for the protection of press freedom and the rights of journalists. The Constitution guarantees the rights of all citizens to form associations with other citizens and organizations for any purpose not inconsistent with the Constitution. This means that the GJA can form alliances with other civil society organizations to advocate for press freedom and defend the rights of journalists.
In conclusion, the recent attacks on the media in Ghana have raised concerns about press freedom and the safety of journalists. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana provides the legal framework for protecting the rights of journalists and promoting press freedom. The Ghana Journalists Association can use various strategies to protect its members and safeguard press freedom, including legal action, stakeholder engagement, and advocacy. By taking tangible actions, the GJA can ensure that the media industry in Ghana continues to play its crucial role as the watchdog of the society and a defender of democracy.
By: Felix Engsalige Nyaaba
Managing Editor, Express News Ghana