Akufo-Addo’s body language to freedom of the press disturbing – Manasseh Azure

Award-winning investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni says President Akufo-Addo and his government’s nonchalant attitude towards press freedom in the country is very worrying.

He said various state actors close to the presidency have engaged in attacks on journalists in recent years. Yet none received the proper attention and sanction from the president.

Citing the arrest of Mensah Thompson of ASEPA, Caleb Kudah of Citi TV and Bobie Ansah of Accra FM, among others, he expressed extreme disappointment at the continued threats and murder of media workers.

Basing his judgment on Ghana’s performance in the World Press Freedom Index, Mr Azure said the president’s body language gave his party supporters some incentive to continue attacking journalists.

“Last year, for example, if you read the press release from the Minister of Information, they mentioned other countries that also performed poorly compared to their previous rankings.

“Now we have Ahmed Suale who was assassinated after being openly threatened by a senior ruling party politician and we have asked the president of this country to go to the bar conference in Takoradi and say that in the As much as the death was unfortunate, it was just as unfortunate for people to say his murder was related to freedom of the press.

“When the president acts like that, supporters start thinking we can do what we need to do or want to do to journalists,” he said.

In the latest Press Freedom Index, Ghana fell 30 places from -30th in 2021 to 60th in 2022, the lowest in 17 years since ranking 66th in 2005.

The report comes from recent news that the Ghanaian government has cracked down on dissent and allegations of an upsurge in press freedom violations.

The report released to commemorate International Press Freedom Day scored Ghana 67.43, placing Ghana 60th on the index which monitors 180 countries.

Ghana recorded a drop in its indicative points of 78.67% to 67.43 from last year.

According to Manassé, “the difference is clearer than day and night” because “not only have we seen an increase in attacks but we are looking at the severity and also the actors involved”.

“It was very common to threaten someone, and it would be taken lightly, but if your fellow investigative journalist is put on TV and threatened, and later that person is killed, you are going to treat the threats seriously and differently.

“Also, we are starting to see state actors getting involved; national security, and we know that national security in Ghana is like an extension of the government or the ruling party. So we have seen what national security has done to the journalist in modern Ghana – to this day; we have not been informed of the offense committed by this journalist, other than to know that he had published something unpleasant about the Minister of National Security at the time.

NPP condemns parts of Press Freedom Index

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) condemned parts of the 2022 World Press Freedom Index, which called the Akufo-Addo administration “intolerant of criticism from citizens and the media”.

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

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

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

“In sum, the NPP has decriminalized speech, supporting infrastructure and training with the International Press Center and support funds and improving spectrum allocations and regulatory oversight,” he said.

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