Under the fundamental laws of the republic of Ghana, one law stands unequivocal and grants the people of Ghana the right to freedom without any bug. The law in itself is a reflection of declaration made in 1948 under Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) Article 19 which stipulates that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without any interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
Article 12(1) of the 1992 Constitution binds all the citizens and spectators alike living within the confines of the Republic of Ghana that, all shall obey the fundamental human rights and freedoms, especially the freedom of the media which was tremendously calculated and added into the fundamental human rights of the republic of Ghana under Article 165 of the Constitution.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the provisions of this Chapter shall not be taken to limit the enjoyment of any of the fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed under Chapter 5 of this Constitution.”
Those whom the framers of the constitution feared the threat to these freedoms could come from are categorically mentioned under Article 12(1) of the constitution and it is required that, all those mentioned in that category shall live to the bitter taste of accepting others to talk and air freely without hindrance or censorship.
Article 162(3) further espouse and warns that “there shall be no impediments to the establishment of private press or media;” therefore if any government agency for the want of praise from the Executive, makes provisions for a fee to be charged on any press might ignorantly be violating this constitutional provision and we are aware, the Parliament of Ghana shall not endorse or condone to violate this basic but very desirous constitutional provision.
“There shall be no impediments to the establishment of private press or media; and in particular, there shall be no law requiring any person to obtain a license as a prerequisite to the establishment or operation of a newspaper, journal or other media for mass communication or information.” Article 162(3)
Those mentioned to stay away from violating these constitutional provisions include but not limited to our President, his Cabinet and team of Ministers, the Right Honorable Speaker of Parliament and his buddies of Honorable Members of Parliament and then Her Ladyship the Chiefs Justice and her group of Luminary Members of the Bar in that, they form the bases of the State, who, led by the President entered into the international covenant to guarantee and protect fundamental human rights and shall be liable to international Covenants if they trample on the fundamental laws recognized by the world which includes Press Freedom.
Article 40.d. of the 1992 Constitution has it that “In its dealings with other nations, the Government shall (a) adhere to the principles enshrined in or as the case may be, the aims and ideals of-i the Charter of the United Nations; ii. the Charter of the Organization of African Unity; iii. the Commonwealth; iv. the Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States;”
Article 73 of the 1992 Constitution has it that “ The Government of Ghana shall conduct its international affairs in consonance with the accepted principles of public international law and diplomacy in a manner consistent with the national interest of Ghana.”
“The fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and all other organs of government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Ghana, and shall be enforceable by the courts as provided for in this Constitution.” 12(1).
After the defeat of “Culture of Silence” and appearance of Radio Eye in Ghana, it begrudges us to phantom if any political entity in Ghana shall make provisions for any law in whatever form that shall gag on the freedom of expression and media in Ghana and that, the Voice of the People being the Parliament of Ghana should disregard any purported action by the Executive and its agencies into imposing any form of fees, tax or its like in a manner of monetary payment to the State that shall be placed on the media.
In fact we buttress our views with the constitutional provisions Article 162.2 that stipulates that “Subject to this Constitution and any other law not inconsistent with this Constitution, there shall be no censorship in Ghana.”
“No Censorship” literally means “no restriction, no suppression, no control, no cutting, no editing, no bowdlerization, and no expurgation” in Ghana and that the antonym is “freedom” of the media.
If we would then go by the version of this constitutional jargon, any imposition of tax is tantamount to censorship and therefore unconstitutional and no Act of parliament shall legitimize it until and unless Article 162(2) is amended.
Imposition of tax on speech broadcast is another way of daunting free flow of information to general public that our Dear Parliament should not entertain and if any law has already been expressed in that direction, we must or should invoke Article 108 of the 1992 Constitution to get any levy, fee or tax on freedom of expression and the media reduced to the barest minimum such that free flow of diverse views could flow and float in Ghana on 24/7.
Should there be any legislation to that effect requiring some fees to be paid to the State for free media, we must with all urgency seek it to be repealed. Accordingly we must bar any authority not to gag freedom of expression because it is in itself a threat to our fundamental human rights recognized by Article 165 of the 1992 Constitution. “Media Rights and Freedoms to Be Additional To Fundamental Human Rights” Article 21 of the 1992 Constitution collaborates same when it says that “All persons shall have the right to (a) freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media;” Article 21(1992 Constitution)
As Honorable Members of Parliament elected by the masses through the same medium of free expression of opinions, we must ensemble resist any attempt to infringe, stifle and gag freedom of the media using tax as a tool.
Our members of Parliament should remember, some nefarious laws were passed by Kwame Nkrumah’s Parliament which Ghanaians have noted to be arbitral and un-Ghanaian. We must frown now, on anything that shall gag Media Freedom.