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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora