Real freedom but frequent threats
Press freedom has a firm hold in Namibia, Africa’s best ranked country in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, and enjoys solid guarantees. It is protected by the constitution and is often defended by the courts when under attack from other quarters within the state or by vested interests. The supreme court ruled in 2019 that the government could not use national security as a pretext for preventing the courts from deciding whether the media could reveal certain information. The right to information was recognized in a case brought by the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) against a newspaper that reported that former NCIS members had acquired property illegally. The NCIS case was based on laws dating back to the 1980s and 90s imposing major restrictions on the dissemination of information concerning national security.
The legal framework could be improved by the adoption of a long-promised law on access to state-held information and by recognition of journalists’ contribution to good governance and the fight against corruption. Namibian journalists and media outlets found themselves under attack in 2019 when their revelations about officials taking bribes in exchange for granting access to Namibia's fishing grounds resulted in the arrests of two ministers and several businessmen and police officers. A journalist was fired from the state-owned national news agency and senior officials accused media outlets of waging a campaign against the government. Pro-government media are meanwhile getting an ever-larger chunk of the revenue available from advertising, which is threatening the financial prospects of the privately-owned media and independent news coverage.
23 in 2019
18.95 in 2019