Broadcast journalist, Francis Abban, says the state of justice for Ahmed Suale is an indicator of the state of press freedom in Ghana.
According to him, the failure of both the media and state actors to see to justice being served to the deceased journalist’s family clearly depicts the precarious nature of press freedom in the country.
Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, he noted that “when a journalist is touched, when somebody is killed in cold blood and the state has a responsibility to get to the bottom of it and find the perpetrator and have the person dealt with, it gives a strong signal for us as practicing journalists that when any of us is touched tomorrow, justice will be served. The absence of it creates a certain atmosphere of concern for any journalist.”
He stated that the failure of the state machinery to arrest the perpetrators of the crime and have justice served inherently makes Ghana’s media landscape unsafe for journalists and this is picked up on by international observers like the Press Freedom Index.
His comments were in relation to Ghana dropping 30 places from – 30th in 2021 to 60th in 2022 – in the latest Press Freedom Index, the lowest in 17 years since it placed 66th in 2005.
The report comes on the back of recent reports that the Ghanaian government has been clamping down on dissent and claims of a surge in press freedom violations.
The report released to commemorate international Press Freedom Day scored Ghana 67.43, placing Ghana 60th on the index that monitors 180 countries.
Francis Abban further bemoaned the selective administration of justice against journalists as against political actors in their line of duty.
He said, “I talked about last year journalists who were arrested, those reports are clear and evident. Yes there are in each of those cases we would want to strip down to the main issues that led to their arrests and they can be looked at and analysed separately.
“But if you look also to the matter of journalistic practice and the speed at which journalists are picked up or arrested as against equally reckless statements or comments made within the media space by say politicians, or persons with high political exposure, we do not see the same rapidity of arrest and detainment or detention for a certain number of weeks.
“I am not by this justifying things that happen and are irresponsible and ought to be checked but we must equally look at the signal it sends to the international community about people who are working in the media fraternity in Ghana and what that portends for the health and strength of our democracy.”