10:58 CAT | 27 Apr 2017
Angola, Mozambique and Equatorial Guinea fell in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) world rankings on freedom of the press, while Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Timor-Leste rose.
According to the organization’s annual report released yesterday, the worst performance among members of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) is that of Equatorial Guinea, which fell three places to 171 in the last 10 of 180 countries in this territory – which does not include Sao Tome and Principe.
The country remains under the authoritarian rule of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, re-elected in April 2016 for a fifth seven-year presidential term, which is reflected in how the media is treated, the report says.
Reports on Arab springs, conflicts in Mali and Syria and the fall of Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaoré were banned, as was the follow-up to the trial of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbabgo in the International Criminal Court, the RSF report says.
“Controlling the means of social confinement and prior censorship is common in this country, which has been governed for 38 years by the same man,” the report’s authors write. “Under this authoritarian regime, it is truly impossible to criticize the president or the security forces.”
Angola is in 125th place, two places below its 2016 ranking, due to the control the regime maintains over the media in the country, and its having introduced new legislation in 2016 that facilitates defamation lawsuits and forces TV and radio to broadcast presidential speeches, the organization says.
“Despite a modest liberalization that ended the state television monopoly, journalists continue to be subject to constant control, either through Angolan anti-defamation legislation or through more direct methods such as the arrest of journalists who irritate authorities.”
Mozambique is in 93rd place, down from 87th in 2016, due to self-censorship, especially in rural areas, and intimidation of journalists by the authorities.
“In 2015, Paulo Machava, who worked for the online newspaper Diário de Notícias, was shot down in the street. He had defended journalists sued for defamation of the head of state,” the report reads.
East Timor has risen to 98th and is praised for freedom of expression, despite lawsuits being used as a form of intimidation, police violence and public criticism of the media by members of the government and MPs.
“East Timor’s journalists face numerous pressures trying to prevent them from freely exercising their profession,” the report said.
Except for Portugal, the best-ranked Portuguese-speaking country is Cape Verde, in 27th, up five places from 2016.
The country is distinguished by the absence of attacks on journalists and “exceptional” press freedom, even on state television TCV and Radio Nacional do Cabo, whose content is independent.
However, the report notes a certain “degree of self-censorship,” which it attributed to “the small size of the country and the communications sector, which makes journalists reluctant to create conflicts with potential future bosses.”
Guinea-Bissau is in 77th place, two places above the 79th place it occupied in 2015.
According to the document, the “political impasse favours interference in the state media, whose directors have been replaced.”
Although the sector is open to private entrants and there is freedom of expression, the report’s authors say that there is self-censorship when it comes to issues related to government, organized crime or the influence of the military in society.
“Some journalists have gone into exile because of intimidation and threats,” the report notes.
Read the ful report here https://rsf.org/en/rankingSource: Lusa