Former President John Mahama says Ghana dropping seven places on the global ranking when it comes to press freedom should not only be a source of worry to journalists and media owners but to citizens as well.
This, he said is because when the freedom of the press is curtailed, democracy suffers and all other human rights that anchor a person’s dignity as a human being are eroded.
In his message to Ghanaians to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day, the NDC flagbearer said press freedom is not a given and must, therefore, be appreciated especially as the “Covid-19 pandemic tempts some governments around the world to want to curtail the liberties of citizens.”
He urged Ghanaians to mark the day by speaking up against what he described as the “dictatorial withdrawal of radio frequencies and closure of radio stations by the Akufo-Addo government.”
According to Mr Mahama, the development has influenced the drop in the country’s press freedom global ranking.
He said people must also “condemn the killing of journalists like Ahmed Suale, as well as the harassment of Manasseh Azure and Edward Adeti.”
“According to Reporters Without Borders, during my Presidency, Ghana became the country with the highest levels of press freedom in Africa. At the time, we were ranked number one out of 54 countries in Africa. We placed 23rd on the global ranking among 180 countries.
“Three and half years later, we have slumped seven places on the global ranking and lost the number one spot in Africa to Namibia and Cape Verde. We have unfortunately lost this priceless status that made all of us very proud,” he said.
Mr Mahama who is seeking re-election after one term in office as president also used the occasion to celebrate media personnel for their undying spirit and determination to keep people informed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We owe it to our great and hardworking journalists – but, first and foremost, we owe it to ourselves.
“I celebrate the men and women of the press in Ghana and across the globe. The threat of COVID-19 has not daunted your undying spirits. The pandemic has not prevented you from going at great, and sometimes risky lengths to bring us the stories.
“You have been at the frontline of the fight against the disease. We are grateful to our pressmen and women,” he said.