According to the report, the Eritrean government is the most active in jailing reporters and stifling newspapers, radio and television media.
The Horn of Africa nation shuttered all independent media in 2001 and is claimed to have over a dozen top journalists behind bars as reported by the United Nations. There have been high profile killings of journalists and authoritarian control over the media in the country.
The fact that the country topped North Korea and Turkmenistan on the list is a reflection of how much the country’s government censors the media.
“The internet was supposed to make censorship obsolete, but that hasn’t happened,” the group’s executive director Joel Simon said in a statement upon releasing the annual report.
“Many of the world’s most censored countries are highly wired, with active online communities. These governments combine old-style brutality with new technology, often purchased from Western companies, to stifle dissent and control the media.”
The top 10 watch list of countries that “flout international freedom of expression norms and guarantees” also includes Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Belarus, and the Caribbean island of Cuba.
The CPJ claims that many of the journalists who were jailed in the 2001 media crackdown are still behind bars till date. The government controls local broadcast outlets; internet connections are hard to find, and foreign radio signals are jammed.
Eritrean law says reporters must promote “national objectives”. Journalists at the country’s state-run media outlets “toe the government’s editorial line for fear of retaliation”, the CPJ said in a nine-page report.
At the time of filing this report, Eritrea’s mission to the United Nations has refused to answer interview requests from media agencies.
About the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.
Every year, hundreds of journalists are attacked, imprisoned, or killed. For more than 30 years, CPJ has been there to defend them and fight for press freedom.
CPJ is made up of about 40 experts around the world, with headquarters in New York City. When press freedom violations occur, CPJ mobilizes a network of correspondents who report and take action on behalf of those targeted.
CPJ reports on violations in repressive countries, conflict zones, and established democracies alike. A board of prominent journalists from around the world helps guide CPJ’s activities.