Reporters Without Borders released their 2013 Press Freedom Index, ranking 179 countries on their restrictions of the press. The ability of the citizenry to express opinion is often tied with peace and development. Therefore it is no surprise that countries bottoming out the list tend to be governments with dictatorships or democracies with largely centralized power. According to this report, with supplemental statistics from the Center for Press Freedom, here are the 10 African Countries with the most restricted press.
10. Democratic Republic of the Congo (Ranked 142 out of 179)
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) there have been 90 anti-press attacks with the highest concentration occurring in the conflict-prone eastern regions. Reports state the rebel group, M23, has been known to threaten radio stations. The government acting in suspicion, suspended broadcasting stations in the region as well, fearing they would spread pro rebellion sentiments.
9. Gambia (152 out of 179)
Gambia sits near the bottom of the press freedom index because of its tyrannical president, Yahya Jammeh. His strict rule over the country extends over media outlets, prohibiting public forms of criticism against his regime. As of July 4, 2013 the Gambian Parliament added an amendment to a media law, increasing jail time for individuals who use the Internet to criticize the government
8. Swaziland (155 out of 179)
Similar to Gambia, Swaziland ranks poorly on the Press Freedom Index because of the authoritative regime. Swaziland is also the only African country with a monarch, King Mswati III. In April 2013, the government fined journalist Bheki Makhubu 20,000 USD for negative comments on the monarch published in a privately owned newspaper.
7. Egypt (158 out of 179)
Even though Egypt has risen two rungs on the index since the departure of ex-president Hosni Mubarak, journalists still continue to face threats. Once the Muslim Brotherhood gained power as the ruling party, they appointed new heads of state-run media as well as drafting laws clearly limiting press freedom.
6. Rwanda (161 out of 179)
President Paul Kagame is known for his strict rule over the small country of Rwanda. Local journalist, Stanly Gatera wrote a controversial piece about marrying Tutsi Women; he later fled the country under fear of imprisonment. In a public statement Kagame claims that the domestic press is treated as a partner not a foe and the West is simply misinterpreting the situation. The number of attacks on the press seem to contradict Kagame's claims
5. Equatorial Guinea (166 out of 179)
Dictator-like president Teodoro Obiang directly or indirectly controls all media. Large oil revenues in Equatorial Guinea result in a concentration of wealth and power near the top. To hold on to this corrupt money, the government censors media criticism. Pictured Here: President Teodoro Obiang
4. Djibouti (167 out of 179)
Djibouti has no independent media and even detained a correspondent from the foreign based news site, “Le voix de Djibouti". As the only independent news outlet covering the country, its staff are continuously threatened and banned. Other forms of media access such as the Internet are severely restricted. A state controlled Internet service provider monopolizes all available access to the web. Pictured Here: Members of the Djiboutian police force ready themselves in the Balbala neighbourhood on March 1, 2013 in response to youth activists protesting the government's arrest of opposition leaders.
3. Sudan (170 out of 179)
Sudan's position at the bottom of the Press Freedom Index has remained stagnant with no reprieve on journalist attacks. During the height of unrest in June and July of 2012 there were 27 attacks. Foreign journalists from Bloomberg and CPJ have been detained and beaten by authorities. The government treats local media the same way, detaining local reporters and arbitrarily shutting down newspapers.
2. Somalia (175 out of 179)
Reporters Without Borders count 18 journalists murdered or caught in violent crossfire in 2012. As recent as July 18tth two Somali journalists were shot in the town of Kismayo. Rival factions are still at war in parts of Somalia and even with the presence of AU troops, to report from the field is to put one's life on the line. Pictured Here: Journalists in Mogadishu, Somalia, protest the ongoing detention of freelance journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim
1. Eritrea (179 out of 179)
For the sixth successive year Eritrea sits at the bottom of the Press Freedom Index. With over 30 journalists imprisoned and no independent media outlets, access to information is severely limited. Information Minister Ali Abdu uses intimidation and imprisonment to ensure that only government propaganda is spread. Eritrea is also the continent's leading detainer of journalists, making it the worst place in the world for Press Freedom. Pictured: Free Eritrea democracy march in San Francisco