Repeal of the criminal libel law represented a high point of my public career – Akufo-Addo
President of Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has said the repeal of the criminal libel law in 2001 represented a high point of his public career.
According to him even though the constitution of Ghana guarantees free speech of the press and other media as a fundamental human right and makes elaborate provisions to protect the freedom and independence of the media, "the existing laws which were enforced by the same constitution contained colonial laws in our statute books that was manifestly anti-libertarian and repressive of free speech."
"That is why as an Attorney General, I led the process in Parliament for the repeal of the criminal libel law" he stated.
According to him, the repeal when it occurred on July 27, 2001, has had a positive impact on the development of the Ghanaian media freeing it from unnecessary censorship and promoting a robust and critical media culture.
“In the process, it has contributed to the growth of and vibrant media and has won Ghana the reputation of having one of the most media-friendly and liberal climates on the continent” he explained.
He added that it has also contributed significantly to the deepening democracy in the country, enhancing public accountability as a strategic goal of public policy.
The President further noted that the palace justification preferred for the retention of the criminal libel law and its repeal has made Ghanaian media practitioners reckless and unprofessional in their work thereby damage the good image and name of public figures and endangering society as a whole.
“Even as one of the public figures most constantly vilified in sections of the Ghanaian media and who ironically was the principal actor in the repeal of the law, I continue to insist that its repeal was necessary in the public interest in our emerging democracy” he stressed.
President Akufo-Addo was the special guest of honour for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom prize ceremony & gala dinner which was held at the Kempinski Gold Coast City Hotel.
World Press Freedom Day
Every year, UNESCO organizes a national celebration to mark the global World Press Freedom Day in one country. This year, it will be commemorated in Accra, Ghana beginning May 1 to 3, 2018. The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law.”
UNESCO uses the day to celebrate “the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.”