• President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says claims that press freedom has suffered under his administration is false.
• He also rejected claims that his government is overseeing a culture of silence.
• He said press freedom is part of his make-up as a politician because he led the repeal of the criminal libel law
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has refuted claims that press freedom under his administration has suffered and his government is overseeing a supposed culture of silence.
According to him, he played a major under the erstwhile John Agyekum Kufuor administration in repeal the criminal libel law.
Speaking during a special congregation in his honour at the University of Cape Coast on Saturday, May 29, President Akufo-Addo stated that, “When it comes to the press, I am certain I have nothing to apologise for with reference to anything I have ever done or said.
“I have been a part of and sometimes led the struggle for individual rights and freedom of the press in this country. I believe in it. it is part of my makeup.”
He challenged some media houses running a campaign against some of his flagship policies and wondered if a response from his government will mean an attack on press freedom.
“A radio station is currently running a campaign against Free SHS. Would a spirited defence of the Free SHS policy constitute an attack on press freedom? I wonder.
“It cannot be that everyone has a right of a reply except members of the government and officialdom, nor can it be that challenging an opinion expressed by a journalist constitutes an attack on press freedom,” the President argued.
Akufo-Addo then urged both the media and government need to be open to dialogue on issues.
“Knowledge has never been a gift granted exclusively to one group. We must listen and hear each other more,” he implored.
Speaking on his political life, Akufo-Addo noted that the amount of criticism he has received, which would have not been tolerated under certain regimes in Ghana’s political history, was evidence of the healthy state of the press.
“I find it ironic that the presidency of a man who has been and continues to be daily the most vilified political figure of his generation can be accused of presiding over a culture of silence.”
“There is no midnight knock on the door in Ghana or authors of dissenting views nor will there be during my presidency,” President Akufo-Addo assured.
Under the Akufo-Addo administration, there have been some excesses regarding how the press has been able to work freely as the Constitution prescribed.
Ghana is ranked 30 out of 180 countries in the 20202 World Press Freedom Index but Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern that many cases of police aggression and some attacks on journalists have gone unpunished.
The 2020 World Press Freedom Index report further states that some journalists covering the effectiveness of the government’s measures against COVID-19 were attacked by police in 2020.
President Akufo-Addo has been criticized on these points, as well as the closure of some prominent pro-opposition radio stations.
In July 2018, the National Security personnel, arrested and tortured two journalists after the publication of an article that criticized the National Security Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah.
The government’s response so far on some attacks on journalists have been condemned highly with some civil society organisations suggesting that the impression is created that the state supports attacks on journalists.