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GHANA TO HOST WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY 2018

Ghana has been given the right to host this year’s World Press Freedom Day for the first time since its declaration in Windhoek, Namibia 1991.

 

World Freedom Day was instituted with the objective of promoting an independent and pluralistic press.

 

Over 700 journalists across the globe will be participating in the two-day programme of activities on May 2 and May 3, 2018 which is being organized on the theme: Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law.

 

The theme highlights the importance of an enabling environment for press freedom and gives special attention to the role of an independent Judiciary.

 

In a statement at the launch of this year’s event in Accra, yesterday, Tirso Dos Santos, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Country Representative in Ghana, said World Press Freedom Day was expected to achieve, adopt and apply laws that would create an enabling environment for the freedom of expression, the right to information and the safety of journalists.

 

Tirso Dos Santos, who is also the co-chairman for the programme, disclosed that on the occasion of this year’s World Press Freedom Day,  individuals or organizations who had made outstanding contribution to the freedom of the media, would be awarded one of the most prestigious international awards in the media fraternity— the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

 

The Minister for Information. Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, who launched the event, announced that Ghana’s Parliament would pass the Right to Information Bill into law by the end of 2018.

 

Mr Abdul-Amid said the bill, which was ushered into its consideration stage on Wednesday, was expected to be discussed clause by clause with all concerns debated and voted upon.

 

He said the rationale for the bill was to give right and access to official information held by public institutions and private entities which performed public functions with public funds.

 

Mr Abdul-Hamid noted that Ghana being a democratic country, journalists as well as citizens of the country were entitled to express their views on national issues. It was, therefore, in the interest of the President to receive citizens’ views and comments without punitive actions against them.

 

The President of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), Mr Affail Monney explained that freedom was an essence of the media profession and commended journalists for the tremendous work they were doing to give voice to the vulnerable.

 

The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Convention on Human rights.

 

The bill will, therefore, give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society.”

 

Ghana has been ranked at the 26th position on the league table of media system in the world with the same score of 17.95, while the Ghanaian media has also been adjudged freer than France which came 39th, with the United Kingdom and United States of America ranking 40th and 43rd, respectively.

 

This according to the Minister, did not happen by accident, but by dint of hard work and dedication from all stakeholders in the media landscape. He, therefore, encouraged the media to take advantage of the occasion to network and exchange ideas.

 

Source: ISD (Solace Amankwa & Priscilla Serwah Adjarkoh)