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 only privately-owned TV channel belongs to the royal family and criticism of the authorities 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. In January 2018, an investigative journalist had to flee to South Africa after being threatened in connection with an article about the king’s alleged involvement in a corruption case. His newspaper was closed on the king’s orders. Several photojournalists were also attacked, including by police.
147 in 2019
49.09 in 2019