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International Democracy Day: Let’s protect press freedom - UN affiliate body urges Ghanaians

BY: Daily Graphic
Conrad Kakraba — Media and Public Relations Manager, UNA-GH
Conrad Kakraba — Media and Public Relations Manager, UNA-GH

The United Nations Association-Ghana (UNA-GH) has urged Ghanaians to protect the freedom of the media to consolidate the country' fledgling democracy.

The association also called on citizens to use legal processes to address issues they have with the media and not to take the law into their hands.

"A free press has, and continues to advance the cause of democracy in Ghana. Let’s protect the freedom of the media to consolidate our fledgling democracy," it said.

The day

The UNA-GH made the call in a statement issued and signed by its Media and Public Relations Manager, Conrad Kakraba, to commemorate this year's International Day of Democracy (IDD) which is on the theme “Protecting Press Freedom for Democracy."

The IDD is celebrated around the world on September 15 each year.

Established through a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007, it is to encourage governments to strengthen and consolidate democracy.

Democracy Day is an opportunity to review the state of democracy around the world.

This year's celebration is focused on the cornerstone of democratic societies-free, independent and a pluralistic media.

Code of ethics/Abuses

The association in the statement urged the media to operate within the ambit of the law and the Code of Ethics and Guidelines of media regulators such as the Ghana Journalists Association, National Media Commission and the National Communications Authority.

It called on the government, media actors, regulators, practitioners and consumers to protect the press freedom of the country to safeguard the media.

It further called for abuses against journalists to be halted to foster an atmosphere of freedom of expression.

It cited a Media Foundation for West Africa report to buttress the point about abuses recorded against journalists in the country.

" In April 2022, Ghana was plunged into shock and lamentation when if fell 30 places in the world and 10 places in Africa in the freedom Ranking established by Reporters Without Borders (RSF)," it noted.

It said, back in 2018, Ghana topped the continent and placed 23rd in the world. The country even hosted the 25th celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, jointly organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Government of Ghana.

" It was only the second time a West African country had hosted the global event. It is evident that the heavy falls in the latest rankings follow a steady deterioration of the country's press freedom environment over the years. The slump is mainly due to a number of abuses against journalists and the shrinking civic space," it said.

Message

In a message to commemorate the day, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, noted that this year's celebration marked the 15th anniversary of the IDD.

" Yet across the world, democracy is backsliding. Civic space is shrinking. Distrust and discrimination are growing. In addition, polarisation is undermining democratic institutions. “he said .

" Now is the time to reaffirm that democracy, development, and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Now is the time to stand up for the democratic principles of equality, inclusion and solidarity. And stand with those who strive to secure the rule of law and promote the full participation in decision making," the UN Secretary General stated.