By: Rpf Gakwerere
World Press Freedom Index ranking for 2021 has been released: #Criminal Paul Kagame’s Potato enclave – Rwanda is at 156 out of 180 countries.
As expected, Rwanda was the worst performer in East African region with Kenya being the best performer at 102, Tanzania at 124 position, Uganda at 125, Burundi at 147 and Rwanda being at 156th position. Norway was the best performer in promoting press freedom being ranked at number one.
As all years, for Africa, the situation for press freedom worsened, journalists continue to be censored, harassed, assaulted, arrested, kidnapped and killed. This year, Eritrea has out performed North Korea by being the worst abuser of press freedom on planet, at 180.
On Rwanda the report noted : Censorship and self-censorship.
Since 1996, eight journalists have been killed or reported missing, and 35 have had to flee abroad. Despite a new media law in 2010 and efforts to develop Internet connections throughout the country, legislation is very oppressive and the spectre of the 1994 genocide is still used to brand media critical of the government as “divisionist”. In 2015, the government banned BBC radio broadcasting in the local Kinyarwanda language after a BBC TV documentary referred to the deaths that took place during the advance on Kigali in 1994 by Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels led by Paul Kagame, now Rwanda’s president.
Kagame’s reelection in August 2017, after a constitutional amendment allowed him to run for a third term, means that authoritarianism and censorship are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Foreign journalists are often unable to acquire the visas and accreditation they need to report in Rwanda. The number of press freedom violations registered by RSF has fallen in recent years, but censorship is ubiquitous and self-censorship is widely used to avoid running afoul of the regime, especially as an overhaul of the penal code in 2018 retained prison sentences for journalists convicted of insult or defamation.
Dieudonné Niyonsenga, a journalist who runs Ishema TV, a Rwandan Web TV, was arrested and jailed in a completely opaque manner in 2020 after being accused of “violating lockdown rules”.