Story By: Anita Delight Danquah

Participants from different backgrounds and countries, excitedly stormed the premises of the Kempinski hotel in Accra, for the much awaited World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) conference.   

“Although I have never been to one of these events before, I think it is great for interactions and networking. It is very important that we don’t live in an isolated bubble,” said Louise Tunbridge, of the International Media Support, Kenya.

Anthony Wafula Nyongessa of HIVOS International,in Kenya is one of the participants whose objective for the conference is to abreast himself with happenings in the media world, meet new people and exchange experiences and ideas.

“Learning and getting information about the status of freedom of the press worldwide is the reason I am here. I will be sharing new ideas with other people and we will learn from each other,” he said.

Other participants, such as Madam Lucy Freeman of Media Legal Defense Initiative, United Kingdom and Anthonius Jimy, Silalahi, a member of the Press Council, Indonesia, are interested in taking stock of the level of press freedom in Ghana and the rest of the world after 27 years after the Windhoek declaration.

Partnerships with other journalists, and learning new ways of working effectively as a journalist without endangering their lives, are the key reasons for which journalists, such as Mr. Bilal Reindeer, Programme Director for Africa, Media Development Investment Fund and Mr. Emmanuel Banfo Agyei, of Central Press, Ghana are attending the conference.

Mr. Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim, from IMS, Somalia, and Adjitché Zek Alafai, from Independent Journalists Association, Benin, are looking forward to meeting lots of new people and building healthy relationships.

With the freedom of the press, being one of the main challenges facing journalists worldwide, Peter Louis from South Sudan, is attending the conference with the objective of learning how to achieve freedom of the press.

“With the lack of freedom of expression in my home country, am here to learn how it’s done so I can go back to help my country,” he said.

For others, they are here because it is their day and an opportunity to commemorate their colleagues who had died in the line of duty.

“It’s our day as journalists so we will come and cooperate with all the other organisations to keep all journalists safe. In my team alone, 10 journalists have died so far” said Firas Alhnosh, from Syria.

Some Ghanaian participants, in particular, have their expectations fulfilled with Ghana hosting the year’s conference. Others however still have high expectations for the host country.

“I expect it to be spectacular because this is the first time we are organizing it. I am expecting this programme to deepen our democracy by deepening the need for transparency and accountability” said Mr. Joe Hagan, a member of the Ghana Journalist Association.

Ambassador Johanna Svanikier, Ghana’s former ambassador to France, although not a journalist herself, is very delighted to have attended this year’s conference in Ghana.

“This conference will deepen the world press freedom around the world,” she said.

For DSP Sheila Abayie Buckman, the Public Relations Officer at the Ghana Police Service, who is also a lawyer and journalist, expects to witness resolutions made which will ensure the fair balance between freedom of expression, justice, the rule of law and responsible journalism. To her, although each of these sectors are important in a democratic dispensation, each actor must be accountable and responsible in the execution of their work.

“There must be fair balance, and I hope this conference will help with that,” she added.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day is being organised in Ghana, Accra from the 2nd to the 3rd of May, 2018. An event organised once a year, it is a global observance that stresses the fact that freedom of information is a fundamental human right. It further weighs the state of the press freedom around the world and serves as a reminder that in dozens of countries, publications are censored, fined and closed down while journalists and editors are harassed, attacked, detained and in some cases murdered.

This year’s conference marks the 25th anniversary of the Day.

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