Gov’t Welcomes Ghana’s Drop Press Freedom Report

Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

Government says it welcomes the Reporters Without Borders 2022 World Press Freedom Index (RSF) report as a baseline reference document against which press freedom in the country may be gauged in the coming years.

According to government, it is ready to work on it weakness to improve on the country’s current position.

Government, however attributed the current position to a change in the methodology by the RSF.

Ghana has been ranked 60th in the world from an initial 30th position, the country’s lowest in nearly two decades.

Ghana has also recorded its worst ranking on the African continent this year, moving from 3rd to 10th in Africa.

Responding to report in a statement issued on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, the Ministry of Information believes the change in methodology significantly accounted for the drop.

It mentioned the drop in ranking for a number of countries including the Netherlands which dropped from 5th in 2021 to 28th in 2022 in the global ranking.

“Due to this development, four (4) of the countries (Netherlands, Jamaica, Switzerland, and New Zealand) that ranked top ten (10) in 2021 significantly dropped in ranking, slumping out of the top ten (10) in the year under review.”

“It is worthy of note that Ghana’s dip in ranking was largely influenced by two of the new parameters, namely, the Economic Context and Safety of Journalists where the country scored 47.22% and 62.25% respectively.”

Touching on the safety of journalists, government said that an activity that may feed into the assessment of press freedom includes actions by non-state actors.

It continued that “It is also striking that the new report took into consideration the effect of opinion media, propaganda, disinformation, and fake news and their adverse impact on press freedom ranking for affected countries. This is a result of growing political and social tensions leading to information distortions and the publication of false news, particularly across social media platforms.”

Furtherance, Government strongly indicated it readiness to roll out strategic plans to improve Ghana’s image on the international press freedom index.

In pursuance of its desire to continuously promote press freedom and the safety of journalists, government intends to do the under-listed:

1. Work in collaboration with the National Media Commission to deepen the execution of the Coordinated Mechanisms for the safety of journalists.

2. Collaborate with stakeholders including Civil Society Organizations in deepening education for state and non-state actors on the safety of journalists

3. To address the RFS’ concern about the poor economic conditions of most journalists in the country, government continue engagements with media associations including media owners to improve the working and economic conditions of journalists.

4. Collaborate with stakeholders in the fight against disinformation and the spread of false news.

Ghana dropped 30 places on the 2022 World Press Freedom index.

The 2022 index put together by campaign group, Reporters Without Borders (RFS), saw Ghana ranking 60 after placing 30 in 2022.

This is Ghana’s lowest-ever ranking in 17 years after it ranked 66th and 67th in 2005 and 2002 respectively.

The latest report is out of 180 countries assessed with Ghana recording a decline in its indicative points from 78.67 percent to 67.43 compared to last year.

It said although the country is considered a regional leader in democratic stability, journalists have experienced growing pressures in recent years.

“To protect their jobs and their security, they increasingly resort to self-censorship, as the government shows itself intolerant of criticism”, the report mentioned.

According to Reporters Without Borders, the safety of Ghanaian journalists has deteriorated sharply in recent years.

For example, the campaigners said in 2020, reporters covering the effectiveness of anti-COVID-19 measures were attacked by security forces.

That is not the only grounds. Ghanaian political leaders are said to be making death threats against investigative journalists.

“Nearly all cases of law enforcement officers attacking journalists are not pursued”, it said.

The Index is a snapshot of the situation in the 180 countries and territories during the calendar year (January-December) prior to its publication. Nonetheless, it is meant to be seen as an accurate reflection of the situation at the time of publication.

Therefore, when the press freedom situation changes dramatically in a country between the end of the year assessed and publication, the data is updated to take account of the most recent events possible.

This may be related to a new war, a coup d’état, an unprecedented or very unusual major attack on journalists, or the sudden introduction of an extreme repressive policy.

For the 2022 Index, this exceptional procedure was used with Russia, Ukraine and Mali.

Each country or territory’s score is evaluated using five contextual indicators that reflect the press freedom situation in all of its complexity: political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context and safety.

The Index’s rankings are based on a score ranging from 0 to 100 that is assigned to each country or territory, with 100 being the best possible score (the highest possible level of press freedom) and 0 the worst.

Read below government’s full statement.

By Vincent Kubi