The press freedom index released on Thursday has warn political leaders’ hostility towards the media have “fuelled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists”.
The Gambia has improved 30 places on the 2019 press freedom index by the Reporters Without Border. Gambia is ranked 92 out of 180 countries that were surveyed by the press freedom watchdogs.
The African continent also saw some spectacular progress. Ethiopia has jumped 40 places under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed while Gambia shot up 30, continuing the improvement after the departure of dictator Yahya Jammeh.
“Gambia continues to make significant progress. Since dictator Yahya Jammeh’s departure in January 2017, the new president, Adama Barrow, has begun realizing his promise to create an environment that favours the media’s development,” said the Reproters Without Border.
“The state radio and TV no longer have a broadcast news monopoly and several community and privately-owned radio and TV stations have been created. In May 2018, the supreme court ruled that the criminalization of defamation was unconstitutional and a major overhaul of media legislation is now under way. Of the more than 100 journalists who fled abroad during the dictatorship, at least 30 have been able to return. Nonetheless, the old habits from 23 years of terror and suppression of press freedom have not yet fully disappeared.”
However, while state repression of journalists has gone down, most attacks on journalists and media worker in 2018 were from political party supporters and police officers.
Meanwhile, Gambia falls significantly behind its neighbours Senegal that scores 49 on the ranking.
The best performing countries continue to be in Scandinavia with Norway, Finland and Sweden taking the top three places.