In 2018, Lesotho joined the still very small club of countries that have declared the criminalisation of defamation to be unconstitutional, but the authorities have continued to step up pressure on the media and journalists. During a demonstration in 2020, the police fired on a female journalist and arrested several other reporters arbitrarily. The authorities also proposed an alarming set of online broadcasting regulations in 2020 under which anyone with more than 100 social media followers would have to register and submit to the same requirements as broadcast media. In recent years, the government has brought a complaint against a radio station for “incitement to violence” after a series of critical reports, while the army accused an investigative reporter of spying when she reported the demands for compensation being made by soldiers previously charged with planning a mutiny. Soldiers who are accused of trying to murder the editor of the Lesotho Times in 2016 have yet to be brought to trial. Intimidation of the media has increased to the point that some journalists have had to flee to South Africa while those that have stayed often censor themselves. Newspapers and radio stations – the public’s main source of news because of the low literacy rate and newspaper distribution costs – have become less and less outspoken and depend on state advertising. Online news coverage is still relatively unrestricted but Internet access is very limited because of the lack of infrastructure and connection costs.
86 in 2020
30.45 in 2020