Nation Tops Region on Press Freedom

Date: November 8, 2010
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Windhoek – Namibia holds the top press freedom position for an African country in the latest Reporters Without Borders 2010 World Press Freedom Index rankings.

RSF (Reporters Sans Frontiers) has moved Namibia 14 places up from 35rd to 21st in its press index recently released, stating that the country has “recovered its former pre-eminent position”.

In Africa, Namibia is followed by Cape Verde (26th) which has caught up with Ghana (26th) and Mali (26th).

South Africa (38th) has fallen five places, in part because of attacks on journalists during the Football World Cup but above all because of the behaviour of senior members of the ruling African National Congress towards the press.

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, for example, expelled BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher from a news conference on April 8, calling him a “bastard” and “bloody agent”.

And the government plans to pass two bills that would endanger press freedom, one creating a media tribunal and the other restricting the disclosure of information.

With many African countries marking the 50th anniversary of their independence, the report said 2010 should have been a year of celebration but the continent’s journalists were not invited to the party.

The Horn of Africa continues to be the region with the least press freedom but there were disturbing reverses in the Great Lakes region and East Africa.

Eritrea (178th) is at the very bottom of the world ranking for the fourth year running. At least 30 journalists and four media contributors are held incommunicado in the most appalling conditions, without right to a trial and without any information emerging about their situation.

Journalists employed by the state media – the only kind of media tolerated – have to choose between obeying the information ministry’s orders or trying to flee the country. The foreign media are not welcome.

Two more African countries have entered the ranks of the world’s top 50 nations in terms of respect for press freedom. They are Tanzania (41st), although certain stories such as albinism continue to be off-limits for the press, and Burkina Faso (49th), even if justice still has not been rendered in the case of Norbert Zongo, a journalist who was murdered 12 years ago.

Several countries share first place in the index again. This year it is Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. They have all previously held this honour since the index was created in 2002.

“These six countries set an example in the way they respect journalists and news media and protect them from judicial abuse,” the report said.


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