Prime News Ghana

Press freedom is worse under Akufo-Addo's administration - Dr Wereko-Brobby

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby
Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby
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Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, a renowned press freedom champion, says President Akufo-Addo’s administration has the worse press freedom record.

Reacting to Ghana's drop on the global ranking in press freedom on Joy Prime, Charles Wereko-Brobby said he would not want to rank the current administration but he will just describe it as the worst in protecting press freedom.

“I wouldn’t want to give a ranking except to say that the current government has been the worst…in the Fourth Republic,” he was direct.

He justified his assessment that, “It is not harsh…because in all the other Republics, there was the monopoly and monotony of GBC [state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation] so there we were not really talking about press freedom.

“Here, through the actions of the one who occupies the position [President Akufo-Addo] and some of us, we have actually established pluralism which enables people to make choice. And what is happening now, both deliberately…and inadvertently, you are now creating a state of insurrection and silence that is being eroded.”

Dr Wereko-Brobby, a former Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority (VRA), also said he not happy to acknowledge the fact that it is under President Akufo-Addo’s leadership that these perceived suppressions of media freedoms were happening.

Commenting on the shutdown of two pro-opposition NDC radio stations – Radio Gold and Radio XYZ – the former Ghana@50 CEO said he met with the President to remind him, among other things, about the fight they started and the foundations they built together to achieve a progressive media landscape in Ghana.

He said when he met the President, his “issues did not include the shutdown of the stations, but it was going back to the fight we started. I told him this is what we fought for and you are now in the position to do something about it.”

Press freedom ranking

Ghana’s global ranking in press freedom lends credence to Dr Wereko-Brobby’s assessment.

Ghana has dropped four points in the latest ranking in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index from 23 to 27 from the previous year.

Ghana has also lost its status as Africa’s best-ranked country in the World Press Freedom Index, compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) which evaluates the state of journalism in 180 countries.

Attack on Journalists

Attacks on media practitioners in the country have also prompted the launch of a campaign to defend the Constitutional rights of journalists.

At least 11 journalists have been attacked by security persons and party supporters since January 2018. There have been no prosecutions.

Journalists with Multimedia, TV3 Network, Citi FM, Ghanaweb, Radio XYZ, Ghanaian Times, Kotoko Express have all fallen victims to attacks.

There have been arbitrary arrests and detention, attacks on media houses, torture, seizure and destruction of media equipment. It makes 31 incidents of attacks and violations on 41 journalists since 2017.

Charles Wereko-Brobby

Dr Wereko-Brobby operated 24-hour-old Radio Eye – the first privately-operated radio station in Ghana – regarded as the first frontal attack against media subversion.

The radio operated for 24 hours in 1994 before it was shut down by security forces for broadcasting without a licence.

That incident earned him the nickname ‘Tarzan’ after a minister likened his fight for media freedom to how Tarzan – a fictional character in a popular jungle story – jumps from tree to tree.

Having played an active part in the fight for press freedom since the inception of the Fourth Republic.

During the clampdown on Radio Eye, Akufo-Addo acting as an attorney prevented Dr Wereko-Brobby from being incarcerated.