Presidency reacts to media freedom plunge

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Staff Reporter
Windhoek

Press secretary in the presidency, Albertus Aochamub, has hit back at claims that government was to blame for Namibia’s slump in global press freedom rankings, after the country dropped from 17th in the world to 24th.

Namibia remains top of the press freedom charts in Africa, but dropped the ball globally by seven places.

Reacting to the news, The Namibia chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) placed the blame for the drop the in ranking on government, saying President Hage Geingob and the information minister Tjekero Tweya had insulted and intimidated journalists, leading to the decline in ranking.

MISA, in an article carried by The Namibian, did not cite specific occasions on which Geingob and Tweya supposedly insulted journalists.

Aochamub yesterday said critical analysis of the ranking by French-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders showed that Namibia actually retained the same score as the previous year, and therefore did not drop in ranking because of any points lost.

He said the drop in ranking was due to other countries improving their press freedom, and not due to a decline of freedom in Namibia. The Reporters Without Borders press freedom ranking for 2017 shows Namibia’s ‘abuse score’ as zero.

The organisation only cites an incident from 2014 where opposition members allegedly assaulted NBC journalists in the Kunene Region.

“Normally press freedom is measured in terms of the extent to which journalists are harassed in their line of duty. Our president (Hage Geingob) has always said our job is to protect press freedom, as long as the media themselves also protect the freedom of others.
“A closer look at our ranking for this year shows that we have actually not lost any points. Therefore, the drop in the ranking was simply due to other nations improving their press freedom and not us losing ours,” he told New Era.

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