The Global Press Freedom report for 2011 ranks Ghana at 54 out of a list of 196 countries. The figures from the independent watchdog body Freedom House show that, after Mali, Ghana is recognised as the country with the freest media in Africa.

The report was released in Washington on the occasion of Press Freedom Day on 3 May, which this year was celebrated by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) with a symposium and flag-raising ceremony at the Ghana International Press Centre. An outdoor internet facility for journalists was inaugurated during the symposium, which had as its theme: New Frontiers, New Barriers.

Freedom House said there has been a steep decline in the average score of sub-Saharan African countries. Guinea, Liberia and Niger experienced marginal improvements while Kenya, Mauritania, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe saw their ratings significantly improved.

The organisation found that the number of people globally with access to free and independent media has declined to its lowest level in over a decade. Countries that experienced the biggest declines in freedom of press include Egypt, Honduras, Hungary, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.

World Press Freedom Day was first proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1991 at the signing of the Declaration of Windhoek in Namibia. The resolution acknowledges that media pluralism and press freedom are essential to development.

www.freedomhouse.org