Namibia: Challenges persist despite Africa’s top press freedom rank
Namibia’s journalists are proud of their ranking in this year’s World Press Freedom Index, with the highest rating of any African country and 22 in the world overall. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement, they say, and the annual Reporters Without Borders rating still shows a drop from last year.
“We must critically look at things that are counting against us in the global index and work on them,” said Sakeus Iikela, head of the Namibia Media Professionals Union (NAMPU), in an interview Sunday with Windhoek-based news outlet The Namibian.
As an example, journalist Elifas Bonifatius of the Namibia Broadcasting Company was shot by police with rubber bullets while covering protests last year. And as Sakeus noted, media interference doesn’t even need to be that direct in the digital era, when governments can shut down access to content and silence opposition voices.
Reporters Without Borders noted progress in Niger and Uganda, but press freedom on the African continent remained difficult overall and disinformation was on the rise.
The previously well-regarded Senegal fell 31 places, to 104th overall, because of an increasingly repressive environment, while the Tigray conflict led to a number of journalist arrests in Ethiopia. Eritrea remained the most repressive nation for journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, while Cameroon, Rwanda, Kenya and Somalia all saw journalists killed in connection with their work.
Among North African states, Egypt continued to censor and arrest reporters but Tunisia and Algeria showed some of the greatest “drift towards authoritarianism,” the report said.
Image: Reporters Without Borders