news analysis advocacy
For more frequent updates, visit the AfricaFocus FaceBook page
tips on searching

Search AfricaFocus and 9 Partner Sites

 

 

Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Algeria
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Chad
Comoros
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Djibouti
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
São Tomé
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
South Sudan
Sudan
Swaziland
Tanzania
Togo
Tunisia
Uganda
Western Sahara
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail! on your Newsreader!

Format for print or mobile


Visit AfricaFocus Bookshop US | UK

Africa: Press Freedom Index

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Jan 31, 2013 (130131)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

Reporters Without Borders has just published their Press Freedom Index for 2013, with a brief review and ratings of conditions for journalists in 179 countries around the world. While some African countries rank at the bottom of the list (notably Somalia at 175 and Eritrea at 179), other African countries fall in the middle or even close to the top. Namibia (19) ranks above Canada (20). Cape Verde (25) ranks above Australia (26), and Ghana (30) above the United States (32).

While I am skeptical of how precise any such quantitative ranking can be, Reporters Without Borders is very explicit about its methodology and has a well-established mechanism for regular collection of data. Their index takes into account not only obvious data such as journalists killed or imprisoned, but also factors such as the level of openness for alternative views in the media.

The full report is available at http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

This AfricaFocus Bulletin includes the sections on "Africa" (sub-Saharan) and "Middle East and North Africa," the full list of rankings for 179 countries, a shorter list with only African countries and selected others for convenient comparison, and an excerpt from the report on its methodology.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

Africa

2013 World Press Freedom Index

Reporters Without Borders

http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

Reporters Without Borders promotes and defends the freedom to be informed and to inform others throughout the world. Based in Paris, it has ten international offices and more than 150 correspondents in all five continents.

Tel. : 33 1 44 83 84 56
Fax : 33 1 45 23 11 51
presse@rsf.org

http://www.rsf.org

East Africa stagnates near bottom of the index, Mali nosedives

East Africa: journalists' graveyard

In Somalia (175th, -11) 18 journalists were killed, caught up in bomb attacks or the direct targets of murder, making 2012 the deadliest in history for the country's media. The Horn of Africa state was the second most dangerous country in the world for those working in news and information, behind Syria. In Eritrea (in last place in the index for the sixth successive year), no journalists were killed but some were left to die, which amounts to the same thing. With at least 30 behind bars, it is Africa's biggest prison for journalists. Of 11 incarcerated since 2001, 7 have died as a result of prison conditions or have killed themselves. Since the independent media were abolished more than 10 years ago, there are no independent Eritrean news outlets, other than outside the country, and terror prevails.

East Africa is also a region of censorship and crackdowns. Omar al-Bashir's Sudan, where more newspapers were seized and the arrests of journalists continued during the summer, is stuck firmly in 170th place, in the bottom 10 of the index. Djibouti (167th, -8), which also has no independent media, detained a correspondent of the foreign-based news site La Voix de Djibouti. Despite the release of two Swedish journalists arrested in 2011, Ethiopia (137th) fell ten places because of its repressive application of the 2009 anti-terrorist law and the continued detention of several local journalists.

Political unrest in Mali and the Central African Republic

Mali (99th, -74), which was long presented as the continent's star performer in democracy and press freedom, was prey to the political events that overtook it during the year. The military coup in Bamako on 22 March and the seizure of the north of the country by Touareg separatists and Islamic fundamentalists exposed news organizations to censorship and abuses. Many northern radio stations stopped broadcasting, while in the capital several Malian and foreign journalists were assaulted. All these occurred before the external military intervention in January 2013.

The Central African Republic was ranked 65th in 2012. Events after the outbreak of the Seleka rebellion at the very end of the year (radio stations ransacked, one journalist killed) were not taken into consideration in this index, thus preventing the country from falling more than 50 places. These will be included in the 2014 version. In Guinea-Bissau (92nd, -17) a media blackout and military censorship that followed the coup on 12 April explain that country's drop.

Africa's predatory censors

Yahya Jammeh, King Mswati III, Paul Kagame, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema, together with other heads of state such as Issaias Afeworki (Eritrea) and Ismael Omar Guelleh (Djibouti) are members of an exclusive club of authoritarian African leaders, some eccentric others stern, who hold their countries in an iron grasp and keep a firm grip on news and information. Their countries, respectively Gambia (152nd), Swaziland (155th), Rwanda (161st) and Equatorial Guinea (166th), are all among the bottom 30 in the index. Media pluralism has been whittled away and criticism of the head of state discouraged.

The biggest losses Chad, which fell 18 places to 121st, saw journalists harassed and roughed up, the publication of the newspaper N'Djamena Bi-Hebdo temporarily halted and its publisher sentenced to a suspended prison term, and a highly repressive bill kept under wraps. The slow but sure progress that followed the formation of a national unity government in Zimbabwe (133rd, -16) in 2009 and the granting of publication licences to several independent newspapers appeared to have stalled. Violence and arrests of journalists still niggle and if elections go ahead as planned in 2013, the atmosphere for the media promises to be tense. Relatively high placed in 2011-2012, South Sudan (124th) fell 12 places after the murder of a columnist -- the first killing of its kind in the new country -- as news organizations and journalists awaited the approval of three new laws on the media.

Despite the holding of a national media conference in Cameroon (120th, -23), the future of the sector remains both uncertain and worrying. In the upper reaches of the index, Niger (43rd) nonetheless fell 14 places as a result of the irresponsibility of a few journalists who succumbed to the temptation to abuse the freedom that they enjoyed. Within the space of four months in Tanzania (70th, -36), one journalist was killed while he was covering a demonstration and another was found dead, a clear victim of murder. Burundi (132nd) fell only two places but remains a low position. Summonses of journalists declined but the case of Hassan Ruvakuki, given a life sentence reduced to three years on appeal, has created an atmosphere of fear among the media.

Return to normality

After a dreadful year in 2011, marked by the dictatorial behaviour of the late President Bingu Wa Mutharika, a violent crackdown on demonstrations and the murder of the blogger Robert Chasowa, Malawi (75th) recorded the biggest jump in the entire index, up 71 places, close to the position it held in 2010. Similarly, Côte d'Ivoire rose 63 places to 96th despite persistent problems. It had plummeted in the previous index because of a postelection crisis and the murders of a journalist and another media worker, as well as the civil conflict that broke out in Abidjan in April. Uganda (104th) was up 35 places thanks to a better year, but things were far from satisfactory as far as the media were concerned. The year ended with President Yoweri Museveni making open threats to several radio stations.

Promising gains

For Senegal (59th, +16), 2012 was a year of hope. The presidential election took place in a peaceful atmosphere for the media, despite a few regrettable assaults on journalists, and President Macky Sall, who had declared himself willing to decriminalize press offences, took office. Much remains to be proved in 2013, as was illustrated by the prison sentence handed down on a journalist in December.

In Liberia (97th, +13), the presidential election in November 2011 had been tainted by the closure of several media outlets and attacks on journalists. In 2012, the atmosphere improved greatly. In the summer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the second African head of state, after Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain, thereby undertaking to promote media freedom. Namibia (19th), Cape Verde (25th) and Ghana (30th) maintained their record as the highest ranked African countries.

Middle East & North Africa

2012 -- Year Two of the new Arab world

"Arab spring" uprisings caused a lot of movements in the Press Freedom Index in 2011 and the situation was still very mixed in 2012, with countries where governments have fallen, countries where they still survive but are facing uprisings, and countries where, by dint of compromises and promises, they have managed to
assuage the demands for change.

Syria and Bahrain at the bottom of the index

Syria is ranked 176th in the index, fourth from last. Of all the ranked countries, it is the one that saw the most attacks on freedom of information. Journalists are targeted by all the parties to the conflict -- the regular army and the various opposition factions -- who are waging an information war.

Bahrain (165th) rose eight places, after limited improvement. The government crackdown continued in 2012 but was slightly less violent than the previous year, when the country plunged 29 places. In all, Bahrain has fallen 66 places in the space of four years and is now in the bottom 20.

Fertile revolutions for freedom of information?

After the fall of dictators, the promises of media pluralism and independence are not always sufficiently translated into action. Libya (131st, +23) rose more than 20 places. This jump was due to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year regime and its positive impact on freedom of information. Libya's ranking the year before was affected by all the violations in 2011, when Gaddafi was still clinging to power. The improvements nonetheless need to be confirmed by the inclusion of freedom of information in the constitution and the adoption of laws guaranteeing this freedom and providing real protection for journalists and safeguards for media pluralism and independence.

Two years after Ben Ali's fall, Tunisia (138th) slipped four places, after jumping more than 30 places in 2011. Why? Because there was an increase in attacks on journalists in the first quarter of 2012 and because the authorities have maintained a judicial void by delaying the implementation of decree-laws regulating the media. This allowed them to arbitrarily appoint people to run the state-owned media. Furthermore, politicians often refer to journalists and news media with contempt or even hate.

Egypt (158th) rose eight places, two years after Hosni Mubarak's departure. This was a slight improvement on 2011, when violence against media personnel caused the country to plummet 39 places from 127th. Journalists and netizens continue to be the targets of physical attacks, arrests and trials and one was fatally injured in December. Shortly after winning elections, the Muslim Brotherhood appointed new executives and editors to run the state newspapers, which had a major impact on their editorial policies. The constitution adopted at the end of 2012 contains vaguely-worded provisions that clearly threaten freedoms. News media can still be closed or seized on the orders of a judge.

Yemen (171st, +2) continued to languish in the bottom ten. There have been no legislative changes in the year since Abd Rab Mansour Hadi took over as president. Journalists are still exposed to physical attacks, prosecution and even jail sentences. A bill on privatelyowned broadcasts and electronic media with a number of draconian provisions, which was submitted to parliament in 2012, has not been totally abandoned.

Countries "spared" by Arab springs rein in news providers

Buffeted by social and economic protests, the Sultanate of Oman (141st) sank 24 places, the biggest fall in the Middle East and North Africa in 2012. Some 50 netizens and bloggers were prosecuted on lèse-majesté or cybercrime charges in 2012. No fewer than 28 were convicted in December alone, in trials that trampled on defence rights. The authorities gave promises in response to demands for political, social and economic change but did not carry them out.

A repressive royal decree in September was one of the reasons why Jordan (134th, -6) fell. The decree changed the press law and drastically restricted freedom of information, especially for online media, brushing aside all the reform promises that the government gave at the height of the popular unrest in 2011. Journalists are being tried before military courts, especially when they criticize the royal family.

Algeria (125th, -3) fell a few places because journalists were the targets of both physical attacks and judicial proceedings, and because of an increase in economic pressure on independent media. More than a year after parliament passed a law that is supposed to abolish the state's broadcasting monopoly, there are still no privately-owned TV stations because a regulatory authority, an essential prior condition, has still not been created. So, for the time being, the new law is nothing but window dressing.

The ranking of Morocco (136th, +2) is stable. Media reform was announced after Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane took office in November 2011 but his government is dragging its feet on the promised changes, especially decriminalization of media offences. Decisions on such matters as the granting and withdrawal of accreditation are often arbitrary and lacking in transparency.

Palestine (146th) is still in the bottom quarter but it rose eight places. An improvement in relations between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas has had a positive impact on freedom of information and the working environment for journalists.

Iraq (150th) rose two places, but this followed a fall of 22 places last year. The security situation for journalists continues to be very worrying, with three killed in connection with their work in 2012 and seven killed in 2011. Journalists are constantly obstructed.

There were only slight changes in the rankings of Saudi Arabia (163rd, -5), Kuwait (77th, +1) and the United Arab Emirates (114th, -2).

Lebanon (101st) fell eight places, after its media became more polarized by neighbouring Syria's civil war. Its journalists are exposed to arbitrary detention and mistreatment.

The 20-place fall of Israel (112nd) is due to the actions of the Israel Defence Forces in the Palestinian Territories -- actions that used to be given a separate ranking in the index under the label of "Israel extraterritorial". During Operation "Pillar of Defence" in November 2012, IDF deliberately targeted journalists and buildings housing media that are affiliated to Hamas or support it. And the arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinian journalists is still commonplace. Israeli journalists meanwhile enjoy real freedom of expression but military censorship continues to be a structural problem.

Relatives held hostage in Iran

Somalia's fall in the index due to the many deaths of journalists there in 2012 allowed Iran (174th) to rise one place. Its print and broadcast media and news websites are all controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards. The authorities have internationalized their repression by making hostages out of the relatives of Iranian journalists who work abroad or in Iran for foreign news media. The Islamic Republic is one of the world's five biggest prisons for news and information providers.


Press Freedom Index 2013 - Worldwide Rankings

African countries marked with *

	Rank    Country

	1       Finland
	2       Netherlands
	3       Norway
	4       Luxembourg
	5       Andorra
	6       Denmark
	7       Liechtenstein
	8       New Zealand
	9       Iceland
	10      Sweden
	11      Estonia
	12      Austria
	13      Jamaica
	14      Switzerland
	15      Ireland
	16      Czech Republic
	17      Germany
	18      Costa Rica
	19      * Namibia
	20      Canada
	21      Belgium
	22      Poland
	23      Slovakia
	24      Cyprus
	25      * Cape Verde
	26      Australia
	27      Uruguay
	28      Portugal
	29      United Kingdom
	30      * Ghana
	31      Suriname
	32      United States
	33      Lithuania
	34      OECS
	35      Slovenia
	36      Spain
	37      France
	38      El Salvador
	39      Latvia
	40      * Botswana
	41      Papua New Guinea
	42      Romania
	43      * Niger
	44      Trinidad and Tobago
	45      Malta
	46      * Burkina Faso
	47      Taiwan
	48      Samoa
	49      Haiti
	50      South Korea
	51      * Comoros
	52      * South Africa
	53      Japan
	54      Argentina
	55      Moldova
	56      Hungary
	57      Italy
	58      Hong Kong
	59      * Senegal
	60      Chile
	61      * Sierra Leone
	62      * Mauritius
	63      Serbia
	64      Croatia
	65      * Central African Republic
	66      Tonga
	67      * Mauritania
	68      Bosnia and Herzegovina
	69      Guyana
	70      * Tanzania
	71      * Kenya
	72      * Zambia
	73      * Mozambique
	74      Armenia
	75      * Malawi
	76      * Republic of the Congo
	77      Kuwait
	78      Nicaragua
	79      * Benin
	80      Dominican Republic
	81      * Lesotho
	82      Bhutan
	83      * Togo
	84      Greece
	85      Kosovo
	86      * Guinea
	87      Bulgaria
	88      * Madagascar
	89      * Gabon
	90      East Timor
	91      Paraguay
	92      * Guinea-Bisssau
	93      * Seychelles
	94      Northern Cyprus
	95      Guatemala
	96      * Ivory Coast
	97      * Liberia
	98      Mongolia
	99      * Mali
	100     Georgia
	101     Lebanon
	102     Albania
	103     Maldives
	104     * Uganda
	105     Peru
	106     Kyrgyzstan
	107     Fiji
	108     Brazil
	109     Bolivia
	110     Qatar
	111     Panama
	112     Israel
	113     Montenegro
	114     United Arab Emirates
	115     * Nigeria
	116     Republic of Macedonia
	117     Venezuela
	118     Nepal
	119     Ecuador
	120     * Cameroon
	121     * Chad
	122     Brunei
	123     Tajikistan
	124     * South Sudan
	125     * Algeria
	126     Ukraine
	127     Honduras
	128     Afghanistan
	129     Colombia
	130     * Angola
	131     * Libya
	132     * Burundi
	133     * Zimbabwe
	134     Jordan
	135     Thailand
	136     * Morocco
	137     * Ethiopia
	138     * Tunisia
	139     Indonesia
	140     India
	141     Oman
	142     * DR Congo
	143     Cambodia
	144     Bangladesh
	145     Malaysia
	146     Palestine
	147     Philippines
	148     Russia
	149     Singapore
	150     Iraq
	151     Burma
	152     * Gambia
	153     Mexico
	154     Turkey
	155     * Swaziland
	156     Azerbaijan
	157     Belarus
	158     * Egypt
	159     Pakistan
	160     Kazakhstan
	161     * Rwanda
	162     Sri Lanka
	163     Saudi Arabia
	164     Uzbekistan
	165     Bahrain
	166     * Equatorial Guinea
	167     * Djibouti
	168     Laos
	169     Yemen
	170     * Sudan
	171     Cuba
	172     Vietnam
	173     China
	174     Iran
	175     * Somalia
	176     Syria
	177     Turkmenistan
	178     North Korea
	179     * Eritrea

Press Freedom Index 2013

Rankings for African Countries and Selected Comparisons

African countries marked with *

	Rank    Country

	1       Finland
	18      Costa Rica
	19      * Namibia
	20      Canada
	25      * Cape Verde
	26      Australia
	29      United Kingdom
	30      * Ghana
	32      United States
	40      * Botswana
	43      * Niger
	46      * Burkina Faso
	51      * Comoros
	52      * South Africa
	53      Japan
	59      * Senegal
	61      * Sierra Leone
	62      * Mauritius
	65      * Central African Republic
	67      * Mauritania
	70      * Tanzania
	71      * Kenya
	72      * Zambia
	73      * Mozambique
	75      * Malawi
	76      * Republic of the Congo
	79      * Benin
	81      * Lesotho
	83      * Togo
	86      * Guinea
	88      * Madagascar
	89      * Gabon
	92      * Guinea-Bisssau
	93      * Seychelles
	96      * Ivory Coast
	97      * Liberia
	99      * Mali
	104     * Uganda
	108     Brazil
	115     * Nigeria
	120     * Cameroon
	121     * Chad
	124     * South Sudan
	125     * Algeria
	130     * Angola
	131     * Libya
	132     * Burundi
	133     * Zimbabwe
	136     * Morocco
	137     * Ethiopia
	138     * Tunisia
	140     India
	142     * DR Congo
	148     Russia
	152     * Gambia
	153     Mexico
	154     Turkey
	155     * Swaziland
	158     * Egypt
	161     * Rwanda
	166     * Equatorial Guinea
	167     * Djibouti
	168     Laos
	169     Yemen
	170     * Sudan
	171     Cuba
	172     Vietnam
	173     China
	174     Iran
	175     * Somalia
	176     Syria
	177     Turkmenistan
	178     North Korea
	179     * Eritrea

How We Compiled the Press Freedom Index

The press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders publishes every year measures the level of freedom of information in nearly 180 countries. It reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.

It is based partly on a questionnaire that is sent to our partner organizations (18 freedom of expression NGOs located in all five continents), to our network of 150 correspondents, and to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists.

The 179 countries ranked in this year's index are those for which Reporters Without Borders received completed questionnaires from various sources. Some countries were not included because of a lack of reliable, confirmed data. This year, there has been a major change in the method used to compile the index, including the use of a new questionnaire. Quantitative questions about the number of violations of different kinds are now handled by our staff. They include the number of journalists, media assistants and netizens who were jailed or killed in the connection with their activities, the number of journalists abducted, the number that fled into exile, the number of physical attacks and arrests, and the number of media censored. In the event of a military occupation of one or more territories, any violations by representatives of the occupying force are treated as violations of the right to information in foreign territory and are incorporated into the score of the occupying force's country.

The rest of the questionnaire, which is sent to outside experts and members of the RWB network, concentrates on issues that are hard to quantify such as the degree to which news providers censor themselves, government interference in editorial content, or the transparency of government decision-making. Legislation and its effectiveness are the subject of more detailed questions. Questions have been added or expanded, for example, questions about concentration of media ownership and favouritism in the allocation of subsidies or state advertising. Similarly, discrimination in access to journalism and journalism training is also included.

A score and a position are assigned to each country in the final ranking. They are complementary indicators that together assess the state of press freedom. In order to make the index more informative and make it easier to compare different years, scores will henceforth range from 0 to 100, with 0 being the best possible score and 100 the worst.

The index reflects the situation during a specific period. This year's index is based solely on events between the start of December 2011 and the end of November 2012. It does not look at human rights violations in general, just violations of freedom of information.

The index should in no way be taken as an indication of the quality of the media in the countries concerned.

{The full report contains more technical details on indicators and score calculations.]


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at
africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.africafocus.org


Read more on |Africa Culture|

URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/rsf1301.php