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 since 2019, 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 legal framework could be improved by the promulgation of a long-promised law on access to state-held information. 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 acknowledged in a case that the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) had brought against a newspaper that reported that former NCIS members had acquired property illegally. The NCIS case had been based on laws dating back to the 1980s and 90s imposing major restrictions on the dissemination of information concerning national security. 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. Verbal attacks against journalists are not uncommon in Namibia and, in 2020, some journalists objected to the verbal attacks they were receiving from the president’s spokesperson. In 2020, several reporters were also briefly arrested, a Namibia Press Agency reporter was given a warning after putting a question to the president, and many media outlets were barred from governmental press conferences about the coronavirus crisis. It was against this background that a Namibian journalists’ union was created in 2021, the first since the country became independent. Pro-government media have meanwhile been getting more than their fair share 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