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General News of Saturday, 14 April 2018

Source: Munira Karim

Ghana to host World Press Freedom Day 2018

Hosting of World Press Freedom Day 2018 is an acknowledgement of Ghana’s progress in institutionalizing a Free Press

In 2017, Ghana was ranked 26th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters without Borders.

The Index ranks countries according to their performance in media independence, self-censorship, observance of the rule of law, and transparency.

So, when Ghana jointly hosts “World Press Freedom Day” in Ghana in May 2018, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the happening can be seen as an acknowledgement of the progress made by the nation towards achieving press freedom and media plurality. That achievement comes from a dark history marked by an absence of press freedom, when journalists were often punished for merely doing their job.

Ghana’s hosting of the WPFD will make her the 4th African country to host the event since its inception in Windhoek, Namibia in 1991. This stride was described by Ghana’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ms. Anna Bossman, as “a demonstration” that the state of press freedom in Ghana was healthy.

“In accepting to host the 2018 edition of the World Press Freedom Day, Ghana wishes to demonstrate her commitment to the promotion of freedom of press within our national territorial boundaries, the African continent as a whole and the global community in general,” Ms. Bossman emphasized.

This year’s event, which will be held on May 2 and May 3 under the theme: “Keeping power in check: media, justice and the rule of law,” will feature over 700 participants, including journalists, civil society, policy makers, representatives of the judiciary and academia from across the globe. They will converge in Accra to discuss the latest developments and challenges related to press freedom, and the safety of journalists. The event is expected to be reinforced by some 100 national events across the world.

Among the subjects related to The Theme chosen for this year’s celebration will be: the respective roles to be played by the media and the judiciary in ensuring the rule of law, including election periods; safeguarding the fundamental right to freedom of expression; and addressing crimes against journalists.

The plenary sessions of the event, which will take place on May 2-3, will kick off with an opening ceremony at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra. The topic will be “Media under fire: what are the new challenges to press freedom 27 years after the Windhoek Declaration?”

Six parallel sessions will address the issue, including: Covering elections and electoral campaigns and old and new challenges in times of media disinformation; a joint session of special rapporteurs; the Joint launch of the UNESCO Report on “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development” and the UNESCO Global Report entitled “Reshaping Cultural Policies”. There will be a Debate on the subject: “Does online speech need regulation or self-regulation? Rights to information: How can freedom of Information laws contribute to sustainable development in Africa and Artistic freedom in the digital age?”

Day Two will commence with a plenary session that focuses on “investigative journalism: uncovering corruption and political malpractice.”

Parallel or breakout sessions include discussions on : Internet shutdown and service restrictions- ‘new tools’ in restricting the free flow of information?; Investigative journalism: ethics and risk mitigation; National Mechanisms for the Safety of Journalists in Africa; Towards the piloting of Internet University Indicators; and Sexual and gender-based harassment in the media industry.

Others sessions will focus on such issues as: International Media Organizations: Ensuring effective safety protocols for journalists; Ensuring the Rule of Law and fighting impunity: What role for the judiciary in enhancing of freedom of expression, Changing the Gaze: Repositioning Africa through Press Photography and Videography; Artificial intelligence, bots, trolls - new challenges to press freedom; Promoting journalists’ Safety; and Countering Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in Africa.

The last day of the event will be used as an opportunity to remind society that around the world, journalists, editors and media workers, continue to be harassed, attacked, jailed, and in the worst case, killed, simply for practicing their profession.

The 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize will be awarded to a person or an organization adjudged to have made an outstanding contribution to the defense of press freedom.

Speaking at the launch of the WPFD in Accra on March 26 2018, the Ghana Minister of Information, Dr. Mustapha Abdul- Hamid, reiterated that hosting the event was a mark of the country’s growing democratic credentials.

“The call on Ghana to host the event speaks volumes about our own credentials as a country, with regard to where we have come from, in terms of the freedom of the press,” he emphasized.
He also noted d that Ghana’s 26th position in the global ranking, has come by dint of hard work from the Ghanaian people, from civil society organizations, from members of the media fraternity and also from politicians.