Journalists pressured to censor themselves
The country seems pluralistic but this is just a facade. There are a score of privately-owned TV stations, a similar number of newspapers and around 40 radio stations, but all are under strong pressure to censor themselves and many are owned by government allies. In recent years, several journalists have been threatened, forced to flee the country or summarily deported for criticising the government or inviting opposition politicians to express their views. During the 2016 presidential election, the Internet was completely disconnected throughout the country to prevent journalists and activists from verifying and challenging the results. It is not unusual for arbitrary sanctions to be imposed on the media, especially when they criticise the government or its allies. This was seen yet again in 2019 when a weekly was ordered to reveal its sources and to cease its investigative reporting on the national civil aviation agency. Pressure is often put on journalists by telephone or in person in order to leave no traces. The victims have included one of the country’s most famous TV anchors, who was taken off the air in 2020 after asking questions that embarrassed a government minister. Several journalists have been threatened, forced to flee abroad or expelled for criticising the government or inviting opposition representatives to express their views. Newspaper publisher Ghys Fortuné Bemba was finally freed in 2018 after being jailed for 18 months. Another newspaper publisher was snatched from his hospital bed and jailed like a common criminal in early 2021 in response to a defamation suit by the wife of the boss of the country’s security services. Several media outlets have had to close in recent years, including two TV channels in 2019, because they could not pay their way – a problem exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The government announced emergency funding for the media but it never arrived.
118 in 2020
36.56 in 2020