Botswana’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index dropped one place from last year, according to the ranking by the Paris-based press freedom-advocating organisation, Reporters Without Borders.
The Index, which ranks 180 countries according to things like media independence, self-censorship, rule of law and transparency, indicates that every region in the world saw a major decline. Published on April 20, 2016, Botswana dropped one place from the 42nd place in 2015 Index to 43rd in 2016 among a ranking of 180 countries.
According to the report, most of the movement in the Index is indicative of a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control over newsrooms by governments and private-sector interests around the world.
The government, which is the largest supplier of services and products in the country, has ratcheted up its war against the private press by instituting an advertising ban that targets media houses that are critical of it. The report states that the financial weakness of many media outlets makes them susceptible to political influence which undermines the way they report.
“Botswana has a relative good position in the annual press freedom index, the government maintains control not only over the state-owned media but also over the privately-owned newspapers that depend on state advertising. Officialdom’s harassment of the Sunday Standard’s journalists in 2014 and the many defamation suits brought against journalists show that it is still difficult to cover certain events in Botswana,” the report states.
In Africa, the report states that media freedom violations seem to be taking a growing toll on journalists.
“The biggest deterioration was seen in South Sudan (140th), which fell 15 places in the Index. In this country torn by civil war since 2013, journalists fell victim to the conflict’s violence and a campaign of intimidation by the authorities,” the report states.