General News of Wednesday, 19 July 2017
President Nana Akufo-Addo says he does not regret his role in the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law during the first administration of the New Patriotic Party under John Kufour. The law, which was widely criticized, led to the incarceration of divergent voices in the country, mostly journalists and writers by the then Jerry Rawlings led NDC government.
Ahead of the campaign in the 2000 elections, President Kufour made a solemn pledge to the people of Ghana he will repeal the law, once he is voted into office. He kept his word and as soon he was sworn, the Attorney General started the processes for the repeal of the law.
Parliament in July 2001 unanimously passed the Repeal of the Criminal and Seditious Laws (Amendment Bill), Act 2001.
Nana Akufo-Addo who was then the Attorney-General under the Kufuor administration in a memorandum on the bill to parliament said “the purpose of the bill is to fulfill the promise of repeal, and thereby demonstrate the Kufour government’s determination to make good its promise to the nation”.
The memo stressed the law, instituted by the colonial master to keep the media in check should have been done away with, when Ghana became independent in 1957.
The repeal opened the media landscape and led to increasing numbers of print and electronic media, offering divergent news contents in both English and several local dialects.
Speaking at the first ever media engagement at the Flagstaff house to give account of his first six months in office, the president said he does not regret his role, though he has been one of the most vilified persons by a section of the press, including accusations he murdered his late wife.
“I do not regret one bit my role in repealing the old discredited law.”
He said the repeal has made the country’s media as one of the freest and most vibrant in the world and is hopeful that will continue to grow in numbers and quality of content.
President Akufo Addo also said the reason for the encounter is to offer Ghanaians a perspective of his regime, six months since he assumed office as the leader of the country.
“Halfway into my first year in office, it is good to take stock of what has happened and the way forward. This forum is not intended to give another message of the state of the nation, neither it is to announce my achievements. It is guided, rather, by the principle of accountability.”