Freedom of the Press 2009 - Ghana
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Ghana, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b27421328.html [accessed 25 April 2014]|
Legal Environment: 8 (of 30)
Political Environment: 9 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 9 (of 30)
Total Score: 26 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
Ghana's reputation as a country with unfettered freedom of expression was reinforced in 2008. There were no reports of serious violations of press freedom as the country held legislative and presidential elections in December.
During the year, there was no repeat of the worrying signs in 2007 involving the activities of nonstate actors, the overzealousness of presidential security guards, and clumsiness in managing press access to public events.
Freedom of the press is guaranteed by law, and the government generally respects it in practice.
While Ghana's criminal libel laws were repealed in 2001, former public officials and private citizens there have brought a spate of civil libel cases with crippling fines against media outlets in the past few years. This reportedly has encouraged self-censorship.
Despite repeated promises to do so, the government of outgoing president John Kufuor failed to pass a freedom of information bill; however, on the eve of the December 2008 elections, the four major parties promised to pass the bill into law after the voting.
In response to the outcry following incidents of police harassment of journalists in 2006, Ghana's police inspector general announced that the police would work to ensure that the rights of journalists were more fully respected. The only case of police harassment during the year took place in August, when the offices of the oppositionist Radio Gold FM were raided and three staff members were roughed up. The raid followed the station's interview of a ruling party activist who claimed vote-rigging in local elections, but police said they were investigating a robbery at the station.
More than 135 newspapers, including 2 state-owned dailies, publish in Ghana. Approximately 110 FM radio stations operate nationwide, 11 of which are state run, and there are 27 television stations in operation. Radio remains the most popular medium.
Journalists regularly complain about the bias they experience when applying for a license to open a media outlet, particularly in the broadcast sector. Some applied as long ago as 2000 and have yet to receive a response.
Poor pay and unprofessional conduct, including the fabrication of highly sensationalist news stories, remain problems.
Use of the internet is growing and unrestricted, but the access rate remains low at 3.8 percent of the population.