President Jammeh among Africa’s press predatory censors

Gambia ranked in bottom 30 of world press freedom index

By Sanna Camara

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Described as “Africa’s predatory censors” of press freedom, President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia has been named among members of an exclusive club of authoritarian African leaders.

This index, which is annually published by Reporters Without Borders, categorized the Gambian leader along with King Mswati III of Swaziland, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, and other heads of state such as Issaias Afeworki (Eritrea) and Ismael Omar Guelleh (Djibouti).

They “are members of an exclusive club of authoritarian African leaders,” according to the report.

Attitudes and intentions of governments towards media

The 2013 World Press Freedom Index is described as a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term.

The organization, which globally prides itself with the slogan “for freedom of the press” said many criteria are considered, ranging from legislation to violence against journalists, democratic countries occupy the top of the index while dictatorial countries occupy the last three positions.”

A firm grip on news and information

The Index also listed Gambia among some eccentric stern others, 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,” it stated.

Freedom to produce and circulate accurate news

“The Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general, Christophe Deloire said.

“In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media’s economic crises and conflicts of interest. While their situation is not always comparable, we should pay tribute to all those who resist pressure whether it is aggressively focused or diffuse,” he added.

 

 

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