The United States (US) Embassy in Ghana has called on all who have a stake in the media to refocus on freedom of expression as a vital precondition for the enjoyment of all other human rights.
This is because journalism provides a platform for informed discussion across a wide range of issues – including governance and corruption, environmental challenges, gender equality, youth engagement and peacebuilding; thus, it was only when journalists were at liberty to monitor, investigate and criticise policies and actions that good governance could exist.
In an address at the event to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, which fell yesterday, the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) of the US Embassy, Ginny Elliott, said a free, vibrant and independent media was crucial as a free press was one of the most vital ingredients for any functioning democracy.
Ms Elliot said the United States of America (USA) placed much importance on the day which was commemorated around the world on the theme: “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”.
She said the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, was commemorating the day, which also marked the 30th anniversary, by helping to launch the 2023 World Press Freedom Index.
Ms Elliot said as a commitment to this call, the US Embassy would continue to support media development institutions to build the capacity of Ghanaian journalists in fact-checking, investigative journalism and media literacy programmes for young Ghanaians to improve their appetite for news and credible information.
She said the embassy’s grant to the Department of Communication, University of Ghana in support of the “State of the Ghanaian Media Report” was one clear example of the embassy’s ardent commitment to supporting the Ghanaian media.
Ms Elliot emphasised the importance of the work of objective journalists and investigative reporters as they held elected leaders accountable and represented a range of viewpoints on behalf of all citizens.
She said it was worrying that there was currently a situation where media freedom, freedom of expression and other human rights were increasingly under attack and called for more to be done to protect journalists.
“We are currently witnessing a situation where media freedom, freedom of expression, as well other human rights, are increasingly under attack.
“Journalists’ safety is of major concern as was stipulated in the State of Ghanaian Media Report.
As the report correctly points out, journalists must be protected, just as the public can be protected from misinformation by strong civil liability laws,” she said.
Ms Elliot also commended the courageous work of journalists in Ghana and around the world, who worked to keep the world informed.
“Today, we applaud the courageous work of you and your colleagues around the world.
Thank you for the important role you are fulfilling to keep people informed.