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» 10.12.2010 - Djibouti sees Eritrea President as "lunatic"
» 26.05.2010 - Eritrea "intimidates emigrants into paying tax"
» 23.04.2010 - Eritrea desperate to undo UN sanctions
» 04.01.2010 - Eritrea was provoked - government
» 11.12.2009 - 30 Christian women arrested in Eritrea
» 21.10.2009 - Eritrea is the bottom last in Press Freedom Index 2009
» 10.08.2009 - Eritrea dismiss insurgents support allegations as smear campaign
» 14.07.2009 - Eritrea not backing militancy – Presidency

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Politics | Society | Human rights | Media

Eritrea: Worst press freedom abuser

afrol News, 16 October - Eritrea has ranked last in an index measuring the level of press freedom in 169 countries throughout the world. This is contained in the worldwide press freedom index 2007 report published by the Paris-based media rights watchdog, Reporters sans frontières (RSF).

Eritrea replaces North Korea in the sixth annual press freedom index report.

“There is nothing surprising about this,” RSF said. “Even if we are not aware of all the press freedom violations in North Korea and Turkmenistan, which are second and third from last, Eritrea deserves to be at the bottom.

"The privately-owned press has been banished by the authoritarian President Issaias Afeworki and the few journalists who dare to criticise the regime are sent off to Reporters sans frontières prison camps. We know that four of them have died in detention and we have every reason to fear that others will suffer the same fate.”

Of the 20 countries below the index ladder include Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Somalia and Eritrea.

The report noted that some countries that traditionally held good positions have fallen noticeably. This has been the case in Benin [53] and Mali [52] where journalists have been imprisoned for defamation or insulting the President for the first time in several years.

Ethiopia [150] moved above its previous position mainly because of the release of the 2005 detained journalists.

But its neighbour, Eritrea has risen from the botting rungs of the ranking. This was precipitated by the country’s frequent imprisonment of journalists, the climate of self-censorship and the unclear status of political prisoners, including two Eritrean journalists captured in Somalia, still weigh heavily.

Another African country that “remains stuck in the red zone” is Democratic Republic of Congo [133] where the authorities have not satisfactorily handled the killings of journalists, especially that of Radio Okapi editor, Serge Maheshe. This is described as a clear indication of “climate of impunity and justice sustained by the government’s open contempt for the press.”

Ranking 87, Niger fell below the index after it had decided to thread along the roads of authoritarian regimes by trampling on rights and freedoms of journalists. The arrest of the RFI correspondent, Moussa Kaka who might face possible life sentence eroded Niger’s credibility.

Egypt [146] was among a host of countries notorious for arresting and jailing bloggers or closed down news websites.

RSF expressed concerned over increase in cases of online censorship.

“More and more governments have realised that the Internet can play a key role in the fight for democracy and they are establishing new methods of censoring it. The governments of repressive countries are now targeting bloggers and online journalists as forcefully as journalists in the traditional media.”

The index was compiled after gathering data from questionnaires sent to its press freedom expression organisations partners, a network of 130 correspondents, journalists, jurists and human rights activist.

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