Press Freedom: NPP decriminalized speech by removing Criminal Libel law – Buaben Asamoa

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The New Patriotic Party (NPP) is noted for its actions to promote free speech in the country, Director of Communications of the party, Yaw Buaben Asamoa has said.

He said the NPP decriminalised speech, supported infrastructure and training with the International Press Centre and support funds, and improved spectrum allocation and regulatory oversight.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Wednesday May 4, the former Member of Parliament for Adentan said “The NPP would like to argue that its very foundation since the bond of 1844, has been the fight to assert national rights through free speech. We proudly draw our inspiration and sustenance from the founding fathers who fought through speech all the way to the colonial masters’ Privy Council to preserve our lands, establish participation in governance and fight for independence through constructive dialogue. The NPP tradition fought consistently for the recognition of the core democratic rights to association and movement in addition to speech, with successive constitutions preceding the 4th Republic accepting and implementing these rights.

“We repealed the Criminal Libel law and rationalised the role of the NCA as a regulator ‘par excellence’. The real challenge now is balance. Recent reports, both internal and external, hyperbolically declaiming the supposed loss of media freedom in Ghana, are painting and playing up a picture of systematic harassment against free speech. But is it truly the case and does mainstream media and civil society experience that in their daily lives and activities? 

“Moreover, is free speech limitless and can it be mischievously used as an instrument to foster instability? These are key questions, objective answers to which can dampen the scurrilous damage to our hard earned political stability and potential growth in the name of regime change. The NPP believes Ghana media is the freest ever and that its contributions to media growth are unparalleled in the 4th Republic.

“In sum, NPP decriminalised speech, supported infrastructure and training with the International Press Centre and support funds, and improved spectrum allocation and regulatory oversight. Free speech will continue its healthy climb under successive NPP administrations.”

His comments come after Ghana has performed poorly in press freedom ranking, dropping 30 places from 2021 to rank 60th on World Press Freedom Index 2022 with a score of 67.43.

The report cited government’s intolerance, a situation that forced journalists to engage in heavy self-censorship in the line with their work.

“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 World Press Freedom indicated in its latest ranking released May 3,2022.

It added: “The 2019 information access law authorises journalists to demand information of national interest. However, a clause in the law allows a fee to be charged if the information requested is in a language other than English – a provision used to deny journalists’ access to the information they seek”

“In addition, one third of media outlets are owned by politicians or by people tied to the top political parties. The content they produce is largely partisan. In Ghana, most media outlets face financial problems, reflected in low salaries and poor working conditions for journalists. Frequently, new newspapers are launched only to fold in a few months, due to inability to meet production costs.

“State-owned media, for their part, benefit from government advertising contracts and payment for publishing news items. Government advertising is awarded through a non-transparent and inequitable process”.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana

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