Eswatini

Eswatini

No media freedom

A small enclave within South Africa that was renamed the Kingdom of Eswatini at King Mswati’s behest in 2018, the former Swaziland is an absolute monarchy that prevents journalists from working freely. No court is allowed to prosecute or try members of the government, but any criticism of the regime is liable to be the subject of a prosecution. Far from being an independent protector of rights and freedoms, the judicial system is often used to undermine journalism. In 2019, for example, a court decision banned articles about the circumstances in which a new bank obtained a licence to operate in the kingdom. A ubiquitous obsession with secrecy makes it hard to access information and the state wields total control over the media. The king’s speechwriter is the editor in chief of the country’s oldest and most popular newspaper. The broadcast news media are entirely controlled by the government, as is the only privately-owned TV channel, which belongs to the royal family. Criticism of the monarchy is severely punished thanks to the existence of dozens of draconian laws under which reporters can be prosecuted. Harassment, intimidation and physical violence against journalists are all common and result in almost constant self-censorship. The editors of two news websites were forced to flee in 2020 after publishing articles criticising the king, promoting a multiparty system or questioning the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. One of the editors was tortured while in detention. The police then targeted his wife in an attempt to find out where he had gone into hiding after being released. In 2018, an investigative journalist fled to South Africa after being threatened in connection with an article about the king’s alleged involvement in a corruption case, and his newspaper was closed on the king’s orders.

141
in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index

Ranking

0

141 in 2020

Global score

+1.19

45.15 in 2020

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2021
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