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2018 World Press Freedom Index highlights dangers of reporting in Africa


Being a journalist in Africa remains a high-risk. The latest report by Reporters Without Borders is appalling. At the bottom of the index is Eastern African countries like Eritrea at 179, Ethiopia at 150 and Djibouti at 173.

The index regrets deterioration of press freedom which includes massive arrests of investigative journalists.

‘‘The climate of hatred is steadily more visible in the Index, which evaluates the level of press freedom in 180 countries each year. Hostility towards the media from political leaders is no longer limited to authoritarian countries such as Turkey (down two at 157th) and Egypt (161st), where “media-phobia” is now so pronounced that journalists are routinely accused of terrorism and all those who don’t offer loyalty are arbitrarily imprisoned’‘, it said.

In North Africa, it is difficult to be a journalist. The coverage of the social protest movement in Morocco, highlighted the difficulties journalists face with arrests and assassinations.

In Tunisia, for example, Reporters without borders denounced a draft law that prevents the independence of this fourth estate of the realm. According to index, all these practices observed in this region demonstrate the clear will of leaders to control the media and hunt down journalists who attack issues of corruption, tax evasion, influence peddlers or cover demonstrations.

Ghana places 23rd, Namibia came in at 26, South Africa 28 with Burkina Faso coming in at 41.

Frequent Internet cuts, especially in Cameroon (129th) and Democratic Republic of Congo (154th), combined with frequent attacks and arrests are the region’s latest forms of censorship. Mauritania (72nd) suffered the region’s biggest fall (17 places) after adopting a law under which blasphemy and apostasy are punishable by death even if the accused repents. But a more promising era for journalists may result from the departure of three of Africa’s most predatory presidents, in Zimbabwe (up two as 126th), Angola (up four at 121st) and Gambia, whose 21-place jump to 122nd was Africa’s biggest.

Elsewhere, France placed 33, United Kingdom 41 and the United States 45.