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Ethiopia, Gambia Most Improved In The 2019 Press Freedom Index

Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the worst regions for freedom of the press, according to the latest report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

A Kenyan journalist carries a plastic replica of a camera as he participates in a protest along the streets of the capital Nairobi, December 3, 2013. Members of the Kenyan media marched in a peaceful protest to denounce the new draconian laws tabled by parliament. Kenya’s president vetoed a bill that would have imposed fines and restrictions on journalists, saying it was unconstitutional, the first time he has used his power to reject legislation. Critics say rules laid down in the bill would curb investigative reports on corruption that plagues Kenyan public life and some media groups threatened to go to court to block it. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA – Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MEDIA) – RTX16263

Press freedom in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 48 countries is classified as either ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’.

Somalia retained its position as Africa’s deadliest country for the media, as great deterioration in press freedom was recorded in Tanzania, Central Africa Republic, Zimbabwe, Mauritania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia, the report shows.

Only 8% have a media climate considered “good”.

“Democracy is in great danger,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency of all people.”

In Africa, Ethiopia climbed 40 places from near the bottom to 110, reflecting the reforms by the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Abiy’s government has released thousands of political prisoners including journalists and bloggers, in addition to dropping charges against diaspora-based media outlets.

Gambia also moved up in rank to 92, putting it 30 spots higher than last year. RSF attributes the jump to a change in government, under which the human rights climate in the country has greatly improved.

‘‘New media outlets have been created, journalists have returned from self-imposed exile and the criminalization of defamation has been declared unconstitutional, ’the RSF report said of Gambia.

Meanwhile,Ghana, Africa’s best-ranked country in 2018, has lost this status for failing to protect a group of investigative journalists who were threatened, especially by a ruling party parliamentarian, after making a documentary about Ghanaian soccer corruption. One of its members was gunned down on an Accra street in January 2019,” said the RSF.

Top 5 African Countries include:-

  1. Namibia (23, global rank)
  2. Cape Verde (25)
  3. Ghana (27)
  4. South Africa (31)

Bottom 5 African countries

  1. Eritrea (178, global rank)
  2. Sudan (175)
  3. Djibouti (173)
  4. Equatorial Guinea (165)
  5. Somalia (164)
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