In Africa, the arrest of journalists is actually increasing. Press freedom remains an elusive dream in some African countries.
The stifling of the media in Africa continues unabated, and press freedoms continually remain undermined. A media watchdog reported that worldwide there have been 262 journalists jailed for doing their work and 66 of these come from Africa.
The media for centuries has been one of the main pillars of any functional democracy. The media tells the story as it is. For some, this has come with untold consequences. In an environment where the control of the state by some repressive and oppressive governments is flourishing, the media that offers dissenting voices or alternative voices is deemed to be a threat to the state. Some have opted to be part of the state machinery. For those who despise propaganda, odds continue to be stacked against them.
In essence, it almost becomes a crime to be a journalist in Africa. According to a Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) prison census 2017 report, as of December 1, sub Saharan countries had arrested at least 39 journalists, while north African countries had arrested 27. Angela Quintal, who is the CPJ Africa programme co-ordinator said that such a development in Africa was against the tenets of democracy and the African Union's press freedom declaration.
Egypt remains at number one in Africa when it comes to making arrests on media practitioners. A total of 20 journalists are languishing in Egyptian prisons. This includes even Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein, who is Egyptian. He has been in prison for close to a year now. Following closely is Eritrea which has 16 journalists facing torrid times in prisons.
The Democratic Republic Of Congo (DRC) under the regime of Joseph Kabila has also scaled up the arrests of journalists, with five journalists believed to be in prison as of now. Cameroon, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea, Congo Brazzaville, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia all had at least one reporter inside their prisons.
Worldwide, press freedoms have been significantly and extensively eroded. The aim is to instill a permanent sense of insecurity in the media so that certain narratives remain unheard of, prejudicing people of vital information and the truth.
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