News / Africa

Media Group Says Reporters Face Restrictions in Much of Africa

Reporters Without Borders activists are surrounded by riot policemen in front of the Ritz hotel in Paris, September 2011. (file photo)
Reporters Without Borders activists are surrounded by riot policemen in front of the Ritz hotel in Paris, September 2011. (file photo)

The Arab Spring appears not to have sprung into sub-Saharan Africa, where journalists face increasing repression while trying to cover anti-government protests.

In its 2011-2012 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders cites Angola, Uganda and Malawi as cases in point. The group also ranked Eritrea as the worst country for press freedom in the world. However, not all the news from the group was bad.

Cape Verde, off of Africa’s west coast, is the highest ranking non-European country in the press freedom index, coming in at number nine.  And the southern African nation of Namibia ranked 20th in the world, ahead of countries like Japan and Britain.

Mali, Ghana, Botswana, and Comoros also are doing well, having made the top 50 list. And Botswana and Comoros rose 20 and 25 places, respectively, from last year.

Reporters Without Borders Africa desk head Ambroise Pierre applauds these developments.

“It shows that a few countries in Africa are able to be an example for the others. It shows also that violence against the press or censorship is something you can avoid in Africa,” said Pierre.

In sharp contrast is the Horn of Africa country of Eritrea, which ranked 179, last in the world, for the fifth year running. In the words of Reporters Without Borders, “freedom of opinion, like all the other freedoms, does not exist under the totalitarian dictatorship that President Isaias Afewerki has imposed.” The group's report notes that at least 30 journalists are being detained in appalling conditions, some being behind bars for more than a decade.

Eritrean presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel blasts Reporters Without Borders for being, as he said, one-sided, saying that researchers have never come to Eritrea, interviewed government officials, or verified independently reports of abuse against journalists.

“We have media people who operate freely. In this country, nobody is detained for the views he or she holds. Everybody is entitled to his own opinion. That is not the affair of the government,” said Gebremeskel.

Not much better is Somalia, where an intense civil war between the transitional government and the militant group al-Shabab even makes leaving the house potentially deadly.

“Sometimes, when you go to al-Shabab, the government police may think that you have links with al-Shabab," said Feisal Omar, a freelance photographer who files for several international news agencies. "And, if you go to the presidential palace the following day for a [press] conference, al-Shabab may think that you’re working closely with the government. They are potentially wanted people, journalists. And, there are unexpected explosions - grenades or roadside bombs - as you move daily. So you don’t know whether you come back home safely or not.”

According to the Reporters Without Borders report, scores of journalists were arrested and mistreated last year as they covered anti-government protests in Angola, Uganda, and Malawi. The report notes that Malawi’s ranking plunged 67 places, the biggest fall of any country in the world, and says that increasingly repressive media legislation had caused some European donors to suspend part of their aid.

Reporters Without Borders’ Pierre said one of the most noteworthy findings in sub-Saharan Africa is that the gap between the good and bad performers is so huge and growing.

“Some of them are even really enemies of the press, like Eritrea or Sudan, but some countries really show the example. At the other end of the index, the countries that performed well are doing better and better, and they show that African countries can do well in terms of respect for fundamental freedoms,” said Pierre.

The Paris-based watchdog’s Worldwide Press Freedom Index is an annual measure of the degree of freedom that journalists and news agencies enjoy in each country, and efforts made by governments to ensure and protect freedom of expression. The more than 50 criteria to assess press freedom include violations such as murder, assault, threats, censorship, confiscation of material, and others, as well as impunity for these violations. Armed militias, pressure groups, and other organizations are taken into account, in addition to governments.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid