Governments and politicians using archaic laws and new measures to silence critical voices and independent media.
Of particular concern are new laws related to digital communication, which will effectively silence critics.
Five journalists have been killed in Somalia since 2016 owing to the ongoing conflict there.
International Press Institute (IPI) members have expressed their concern that that space for press freedom is fast shrinking in Africa with governments and politicians using archaic laws and new measures to silence critical voices and independent media.
The emerging threat to press freedom on the continent and in other parts of the world includes attempts by governments and politicians to harass journalists by smearing critical coverage as “fake news”. Of particular concern are new laws related to digital communication, which will effectively silence critics.
IPI members noted that Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemb, editor of an independent paper in the Republic of Congo, has been in prison since January last year. In Somaliland, journalist Mohamed Adnan Diri was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of criminal defamation and publishing false news.
In Angola, journalist and 2018 IPI World Press Freedom Hero Rafael Marques de Morais faced up to four years in prison on charges of insult to a public authority over a 2016 article scrutinising a real estate transaction involving Angola’s then-attorney-general. Together with editor Mariano Brás, they were acquitted on July 6.
Marques has faced decades of harassment and prosecution at the behest of the government for exposing corruption and human rights abuses. Several Angolan journalists have fled the country into exile to protect the lives of their families.
IPI members also expressed concern over the lack of progress on media freedom in Zimbabwe following the departure of former President Robert Mugabe, whose rule saw the country become one of the world’s most heavily censored. The biggest continuing threat to media freedom in Zimbabwe is its oppressive media legislation, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa has not indicated a clear willingness to reform.