The Reporters Without Borders 2014 world press freedom index has placed Cameroon at the 131st position, a drop from last year’s, which stood at 120.

Free the press

Free the press

According to Journalists Without Borders, which released the world press freedom index, press freedom in Africa is in a decline. Reporters Without Borders explains that “the climate for the media is getting tougher in Cameroon”. In its report, it reveals that “Security grounds are used when needed to defend increased control over the media or the repressive status quo”. The disclosure is exampled in that the “National Communication Council is trying to penalize coverage of the government’s cooperation with Nigeria in combating Boko Haram”.
However, like most countries in Central Africa, defamation laws are promulgated to keep media liberty at bay, and “corruption under wraps”.
Apart from central Africa where the index shows a decline, West Africa presents a much more worse and hostile atmosphere for the press. JWB holds that wars and terrorist threats have weakened the media in West Africa, with media control seen as a “strategic goal in conflicts”. In the Horn of Africa, poverty levels and authoritarianism make of civil liberties, the media inclusive, collateral victims.
Glaring examples abound in Somalia, with the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab which has “always targeted journalists as unwanted witnesses of its terrorist methods. With seven journalists killed in 2013, Somalia is Africa’s deadliest country for media personnel.” JWB further explains that “in November, Al-Shabaab deprived an entire region of television by seizing satellite dishes on the grounds they carried images that did not respect Islam. Information is seen as threat”.
Reporters Without Borders further elucidates that “this persecution is nonetheless also indicative of the immense power that journalists still wield as watchdogs. They make it possible for the population to see and hear, and they make sense out of scraps of information, fashioning it into something intelligible to all and thereby maintaining their importance, all the more so in time of war.


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