The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has expressed profound appreciation for the Ghanaian media’s significant contributions in raising awareness about various rights in the country.
The Minister made this known in press statement yesterday, in Accra, to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day.
While expressing gratitude for the media’s contribution so far, the Minister also urged for stronger emphasis on economic rights, considering the recent global challenges and dim economic forecasts.
“Government has commended the Ghanaian media for the indispensable role it plays in the country while urging greater emphasis on economic rights to support efforts in rebuilding faster after the recent global economic challenges” he urged.
This year’s anniversary, according to the minister, is themed: “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights,” marks the 30th global celebration of press freedom.
The Minister emphasised that the media has been instrumental over the years in highlighting various rights that require attention for full enjoyment.
The work of the media, also in highlighting instances of abuse of some rights by sections of the society, has led to redress in many instances. We urge the media to remain resolute on this path.
“While urging the Media in Ghana to keep the spotlight on all human rights, we encourage an even sharper focus on efforts to ensure that the economic rights of citizens are fully actualized,” the statement said.
This government reiterated its commitment to supporting media stakeholder groups in Ghana, including the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Private Independent Newspapers Association (PRINPAG), the Communication Educators platform, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), and the National Media Commission (GIBA).
The former Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) president, Mrs Gifty Affenyi–Dadzie, in her address at the celebration of the event at the Press Centre in Accra yesterday, said that the Freedom of Expression has never been the preserve of the media, but rather it is the oxygen driving democratic societies.
She reinstated that the freedom of speech on our radio stations and the numerous newspaper publications bear testimony to the fact that Ghana is making tangible progress in democratic governance.
One example in agenda setting she indicated, is the demand for accountability, which has been the work of the media coalition on illegal mining or galamsey that was launched in April 2017 to raise concern about the dangers of galamsey, which threaten our future existence.
Mrs. Dadzie said it is relevant “to remind ourselves that based on the happenings we know now, the agenda to stop galamsey should be treated as a major existential threat that should go beyond the coalition that first highlighted the menace.”
Mrs. Dadzie disclosed that one organ that can sanitize the political campaign environment is the GJA’s Ethics and Disciplinary Council, which is mandated to promote high ethical standards among members of the Association in the performance of their duties.
Also, the president of the Private Newspapers Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG), Andrews Edwin Arthur, who took turn to address the gathering, in his statement said that this year’s World Press Freedom Day serves as a wake-up call to all lovers of media freedom to stand up and defend media practitioners by condemning all acts that end up negatively affecting the practice of journalism in this country.
Mr. Arthur used the opportunity to urge the Government’s media handlers to be proactive and to engage media owners, editors and senior journalists the more in an attempt to save the Ghanaian media from dying.
He again admonished the Government and its media handlers to consider bringing all media houses onto a common platform, irrespective of perceived political persuasion as a way of making information readily accessible to all.
This, he said, will enable the Government and its media handlers to promote press freedom and pluralism of the media, which is crucial for development in these contemporary times, not forgetting the need to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined in Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
The President of PRINPAG called on media stakeholders, especially the government, to prioritize the welfare and wellbeing of journalist throughout the country so as to ensure that, they are better placed to lend support to the national agenda through the practice of their chosen profession.
The President of Ghana Journalists Association, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, on his part said to ensure protection of free speech, it was essential that journalists, who are the vanguards of free speech, receive all the support they require to carry out their duties without hindrance or compromise.
“This is why, under my stewardship, the GJA has established the Journalists Support Fund (JSF). The Fund will provide legal services to journalists whose rights have been violated while performing their duties.
“It will also assist in providing training and seminars on safety and security to our members to improve their safety and security,” he said.
Regarding the development of the nation, Mr. Dwumfour noted that the right to free expression is of the utmost importance and all measures must be taken to ensure that it is not infringed upon in any way.
He disclosed that his outfit will inaugurate the “See Something, Say Something” initiative. This initiative is distinct from that of the Ministry of National Security and aims to encourage citizens to volunteer information about individuals who plan to attack or have already attacked journalists.