Ghana is expected to host the 2018 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD).
The two-day event, 3rd to 4th May, 2018, will bring together leading actors from the media, civil society, policy makers, representatives of the judiciary and academia, to discuss latest developments and pressing challenges related to press freedom and the safety of journalists.
The event, which will be organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will be partnered by the government of Ghana.
The 2018 edition of the World Freedom Day will be on the theme: “Media, Justice and the Rule of law”.
It is the fourth time that the global celebration of WPFD will take place on African soil – 27 years after the Windhoek Declaration on free, independent and pluralistic media was adopted, and later endorsed by UNESCO’s General Conference.
The main celebration in Accra is expected to be reinforced by some 100 national events the world over.
Speaking to the media on a brief visit to Ghana, Irina Bokova, the Director General of the UNESCO, called on government to focus on giving citizens much more access to information.
This she said would quicken Ghana’s ability to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I’m very excited that Ghana extended an invitation to host [the World Press Freedom Day] next year, on the 3rd of May. We know that people need to be informed in order to take the right decisions, and also because we consider that this is not just a human right but it is vital for sustainable development, and that when we speak about the implementation of the agenda 2030 for sustainable development where UNESCO is the lead agency in education, we work a lot in social inclusion, in gender equality, in youth development, skills for young people, but also goal 16 which is about strong institution, inclusive and just societies.”
“I would say overall journalism plays a huge importance, and UNESCO is very much looking forward to the next World Press Freedom Day here in Ghana,” she added.
Ambassador of Ghana to UNESCO, Anna Bossman, also said Ghana’s acceptance to host the event “demonstrates her commitment to the promotion of press freedom within our national territorial boundaries, the African continent as a whole, and the global community in general.”
Ghana and the Right to Information Bill
This comes on the back of pressure on government to pass the Right to Information Bill (RTI), which has been in Parliament for well over a decade now.
The RTI Bill is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The Bill is expected to give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution, which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
It was drafted in 1999, and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
The first attempt at enacting the law on the right to information was made when the Bill was presented to Parliament on February 5, 2010.
The Attorney-General on June 25, 2015, moved the Bill for the second reading, but could not be passed by the previous Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, had earlier promised that government will facilitate the passage of the Bill.
“Our government has already made it clear that we will be passing the Right to Information Act. We will make sure a special prosecutor’s office is set up to prosecute corruption, and we will amend the criminal code to move corruption from a misdemeanor to a felony. These are just some of the actions we intend to implement this year,” Dr Bawumia said.
By: Michael Ogbodu/citifmonline.com/Ghana