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Press Freedom in Africa 2010

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Twelve (12) journalists assassinated, five (5) killed accidentally, thirty-four (34) imprisoned, hundreds threatened, intimidated, attacked, assaulted: this is the bleak picture of press freedom in Africa in 2010.

Eastern Africa was the hottest zone of the continent in 2010 with countries like Eritrea (the largest journalists’ prison in Africa), Somalia, where the belligerents of the unrelenting civil war, seems to have opted for a new strategy of terror consisting in kidnapping, destruction or confiscation of the media. Uganda also suddenly plunged into chaos with heavy losses of human lives (3 journalists killed) and many cases of arrests, threats and intimidation; the same applies to Burundi where the situation changed dramatically, thus provoking the angry reaction of human rights activists.

Central Africa did not register many changes as regards press freedom either. In the DRC, at least one journalist is shot every year in the discharge of his duties, in addition to the repeated violations of press freedom as the elections draw near. Cameroon gave us a surprise in 2010 by setting in motion repressive measures that led to the imprisonment of several journalists, thus diverting the attention of the media from the elections scheduled in 2011, and denying health care to one of the journalists Bibi Ngota, who died in April at the Kondengui central prison in Yaoundé.

In North Africa, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt stood out for their determination to openly punish independent journalism.

In West Africa, Nigeria where 3 journalists were assassinated, was followed by Sierra Leone where flagrant and repeated violations of the rights of journalists to carry out their professional activities freely were noted in the latter part of last year.

In Southern Africa, a decline in press freedom was observed in South Africa with the harshening of press legislation. In Angola, the demons of civil war seem to have been revived with the assassination of a journalist, the authors of which have still not been identified.

The analysis in this report ranks countries of each region into two categories: difficult countries and countries to be encouraged, it contains a summary of information concerning journalists who fell on the field of honour and another concerning those still suffering agonizing torments in prison.

This report is not intended to heap opprobrium on any country. It is especially meant to sound a warning note about the dangers to which press freedom is exposed on the continent in order to draw the leaders’ attention to the responses to be made for the improvement of relations with the press on the African continent. This report is also meant to be a tool to document advocacy to policy-makers in African countries. By publishing a yearly report on the state of press freedom in Africa, the Africa Office of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) have set themselves a twofold challenge : to produce an account by African journalists directly experiencing the different problems, but also and especially to undertake a serious analysis and discussion on the fundamental processes unfolding in our societies in the light of the profound aspiration to enable the media to contribute to a fairer, more humane and more democratic society.

For more information contact FAJ/IFJ : +221 33 867 95 86/87

The FAJ represents over 50,000 journalists in 38 countries in Africa

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 131 countries worldwide