South African press freedom in ‘fragile’ state

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As the world observes World Press Freedom day on May 3rd, the press freedom in South Africa has been noted as ‘fragile’. This is according to the 2018 World Press Index by international non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Boarders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF).

In a global ranking of 180 countries, South Africa was ranked 28th with Norway taking first place as the most free country in the world where the media can freely report.

South Africa’s rating has improved by 3 points since 2017, when the country was ranked 31 in 2017.

The 2018 World press Index notes how journalists in South Africa continue to be harassed when covering issues relating to the state .

“South Africa’s 1996 constitution protects the freedom of its very diverse media. However, apartheid-era legislation and the 2004 terrorism laws are used to limit coverage of government institutions when “national interest” is supposedly at stake,” notes the Index report.

The state of media freedom, according to the index, is in a ‘satisfactory situation”.

Compared to other African countries, South Africa , together with Namibia ,Ghana and Burkina Faso, are the most highly ranked countries in terms press freedom.

So far, in South Africa   there have been no journalists killed for their reporting in 2018.

A majority of the countries in Africa continue to experience “noticeable problems” and “very serious situations” as journalist report under difficult conditions.

The difficult conditions include murders and harassment of journalist.


Graphic by RSF

North Korea was ranked last in the index, taking the 180th spot.

“Headed by Kim Jong-un since 2012, its totalitarian regime keeps its citizens in a state of ignorance. The widespread adoption of mobile phones, including smartphones, has been accompanied by technical measures that provide the regime with almost complete control over communications and files transmitted over the national intranet,” notes the report.

In 2018, twenty six journalist (26) from different parts of the world have been killed for doing their work, according to data by the Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ).

Graphic by CPJ