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Protect Press Freedom in Ghana

For the democratic development of Ghana it is crucial that media in Ghana can operate freely without any oppression by the State. In March 2010 Ghana was ranked first in press freedom on the African content and 27th in the world.

Unfortunately a recent trend is that media and journalists are being confronted with criminal charges. This is possible because the Ghana Criminal Code still contains laws which are relics from the era of authoritarian rule in Ghana. Although these laws can be regarded as in conflict with the 1992 Constitution, they can be used by the authorities to intimidate and criminalize the media in Ghana.

In a democracy the media play a crucial role as a watchdog. Journalists, editors and publishers cannot do their job properly if they can be criminalized at will by the Police.

Below are a number of incidents in which the media in Ghana were intimidated with criminal charges. Each incident is an affront to the press freedom in Ghana.

Criminal Charges against Ato Kwamena Dadzie (JOY FM's Acting News Editor)

In this incident the Minister of Information, John Tia Akologu, issued a statement to Joy FM. The statement demanded the retraction of an article about the controversial STX Housing Deal. The statement said "Government is deeply offended by the JoyFM publication and demands that the management of the station substantiates its claims immediately or retracts the allegations and apologizes to the President, Government and people of Ghana accordingly. Meanwhile, Government has directed the security agencies to investigate the claim ....".

A few days after this statement Mr. Dadzie was 'invited' to the CID headquarters, where he was formally charged with the criminal offence of "publishing false news with intent to cause fear and alarm". The corresponding section 208 of the Ghana Criminal code is a relic from the era of authoritarian rule in Ghana.


Police intimidates Ghanaian Times Editor