A FREER PRESS FOR A STRONGER DEMOCRACY

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) is honoured to join the world to commemorate World Press Freedom Day. This day, which is celebrated on the 3rd of May every year, is a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom, and serves as a time of reflection among media professionals about press freedom and professional ethics. This year's theme is “Journalism under Surveillance”, with the focus on the impact of digital surveillance by state and non-state actors on journalism, freedom of expression and privacy.

The press is a powerful medium that can influence the way people view the world and their opinion of what they see. A free press can enlighten citizens about the accomplishments or failures of their leaders, inform the government of the needs of citizens and serves as a platform for the open exchange of information and ideas.

Freedom of the press is a vital principle of communication and expression through various media, including print and electronic that should be considered a right to be exercised freely. Despite the dramatic changes in the media over the past decades, the urgent call for press freedom and free access to information is as relevant as ever.

Approval of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana brought a liberalization of the media which led to the establishment of numerous media houses to inform and educate the citizenry. This change was due to the fact that the 1992 Constitution guaranteed the freedom of the media as stated in Article 162 clause (1): “Freedom and independence of the media are hereby guaranteed”.

Although not directly part of the political system, the press forms the fourth estate of realm as it often upholds the responsibility and accountability of Government to the people.

In recent years however, the issue of media freedom, and the ability of journalists to do their jobs without fear, have been in the headlines again. Some journalists in Ghana have to risk their lives in their line of duty, often harassed and detained in their search for the truth. The need for free access to information is relevant as they seek to educate the public.

The Commission urges the State, Government and Security Agencies to work with journalists so as to ensure the populace is duly informed and educated on matters concerning them. Violence against journalists is absolutely unacceptable in a democraticdispensation. The State has a responsibility to guarantee the safety and protection of journalists and media outlets and should do so as journalists are equal citizens of our country.

The NCCE encourages journalists to uphold the tenets of the journalism profession and do diligent work in order to continue to provide citizens with factual information, and eschew falsehood in their work. Journalists must also obey the laws that govern our country to ensure that peace is preserved.

It is necessary to our democracy that press freedom thrives because the freer the press, the better informed citizens can be. Without this freedom, Ghanaians would be at the mercy of political machinations.


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