Press Freedom in Africa


Press Freedom in Africa

This year's Reporters Without Borders international press freedom index is out and, as usual, Africa has fared poorly.
The continent's highest ranked countries (with the best record of press freedom over the past year) are Cape Verde (in 9th place, globally), Namibia (20th) and Mali (25th).
South Africa and Botswana share 42nd place, much further down, but slightly higher than the USA.World Press Freedom

The U.S.A slumped 27 places to 47th place, largely due to arrests of journalists covering protests. Democracy uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East severely tested countries there.

Tunisia (134th) rose 30 places in the index and, with much suffering, gave birth to a democratic regime that has not yet fully accepted a free and independent press. Bahrain (173rd) fell 29 places because of its relentless crackdown on pro-democracy movements, its trials of human rights defenders and its suppression of all space for freedom.

While Libya (154th) turned the page on the Gaddafi era, Yemen succumbed to violence between President Ali Abdallah Saleh’s opponents and supporters and languished in 171st position. The future of both of these countries remains uncertain, and the place they will allow the media is undecided. The same goes for Egypt, which fell 39 places to 166th because the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in power since February, dashed the hopes of democrats by continuing the Mubarak dictatorship’s practices. There were three periods of exceptional violence for journalists: in February, November and December.

Already poorly ranked in 2010, Syria fell further in the index, to 176th position, because total censorship, widespread surveillance, indiscriminate violence and government manipulation made it impossible for journalists to work.

South Sudan, a new nation facing many challenges, has entered the index in a respectable position (111th) for what is a breakaway from one of the worst ranked countries, Sudan (170th).

Africa saw the biggest falls in the index. Djibouti, a discreet little dictatorship in the Horn of Africa, fell 49 places to 159th. Malawi (146th) fell 67 places because of the totalitarian tendencies of its president, Bingu Wa Mutharika. Uganda fell 43 places to 139th. Finally, Côte d’Ivoire fell 41 places to 159th because the media were badly hit by the fighting between the supporters of rival presidents Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara.

The full report is available HERE.

Posted on Jan 28, 2012 by Africartoons Bookmark and Share