Press Freedom Attacks in Africa
By Paul Ndiho
May 3, 2012
The 2012 freedom of the press report released today says that out 197 countries assessed during 2011, a total of 66 countries were rated free, 72 were rated partly free and 59 countries were rated not free at all.
The state of press freedoms in Africa continued to be a hot topic in 2011. More than 13 African countries introduced new legislation last year that restricted press freedoms and allowed regimes to control domestic media. The report released by freedom house, a media watch dog based in Washington, DC says 10 percent of counties in sub-Saharan Africa were rated free, 47 percent partly free– and 43% not free. The horn of Africa was cited for the worst in attacks against the press on the continent, with Eritrea jailing 28 journalists – the most in Africa. Ethiopia ranked among the top 10 oppressors of internet journalists and some are currently on trial on terrorism charges. Somalia is Horn of Africa’s deadliest nation for the media; at least five journalists have been assassinated.
Angolan government introduced a bill that would criminalize the use of social media, electronic dissemination of “recordings, pictures, and video” of any individual without the subject’s consent.
In Cameroon, the government detains journalists for investigating official misconduct, demonizes social media users and criminalizes certain online speech.
The democratic republic of the Congo – DRC made the list too and attacks on the press hit a five-year, all-time high in November 2011. Attacks on the press were concentrated in the capital, Kinshasa, and surrounding areas.
Equatorial Guinea, did not pretend either the authorities imposed a news blackout on coverage of Arab uprisings and the use of Social Media
In Gambia, a radio station is forced to eliminate news, leaving no independent broadcasters and the whereabouts of reporter detained by the government remain a mystery
Ivory Coast, did not fare well either because of partisan media outlets, journalists were attacked in presidential power struggle. Ouattara pledged reconciliation, but his government retaliated against Pro-Gbagbo media.
Rwanda was cited as one of the worst place for independent journalists. Two independent journalists received lengthy prison sentences and journalists working for independence continue to flee the country.
In South Africa the anti-press rhetoric by the African National Congress – ANC, several assaults on journalists were reported and, ruling party pushed through a secrecy bill
Nationwide Uganda protests over “walk to work” demonstrations led to anti-press attacks and censorship, two journalists shot, dozens assaulted. The government security forces continue to assault opposition leaders and innocent civilians.
In Zimbabwe official media harassment is down slightly, but restrictive laws and regulations against journalists remain. Government raised accreditation fees, but moves slowly on issuing private broadcast licenses