The media has for centuries been accredited as a measure of checks and balances in any functioning democracy. Journalists the world over have a mandate to tell the story as it is. This, for some, has come with some dreadful consequences.
In Africa, certain governments are oppressive and repressive. They don’t allow the freedom of the press, and they muzzle any democratic voices in their country. In attempts to keep their grip on power without anyone questioning them and without anyone offering an alternative voice in the narrative, journalists are subjected to ill-treatment. And African countries are infamously known for stifling the work of media practitioners, especially those who are likely deemed to be posing a threat to the government.
At least 262 journalists have been arrested in the world, and 66 of these are in Africa as of December 1, a media watchdog reported. 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.
Egypt is particularly notorious when it comes to the arrest of journalist within it borders. It remains at number one in Africa with a total of 20 journalists in prison followed by Eritrea which has 16. Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein, who is Egyptian, is languishing in an Egyptian prison for close to a year now.
Although it had released at least 11 journalists the previous year, Ethiopia remained among the worst jailers, with five reporters in the country’s prisons. At least four journalists were anguishing Moroccan jails, while Algeria had two reporters behind bars .Cameroon, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea, Congo Brazzaville, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia all had at least one reporter inside their prisons.
Press freedom all over the world has hit an all-time low, but in Africa, the figures are increasingly worrying.