Kenya has dropped 19 places from last year to position 90 out of 180 countries this year, which is one of the most significant fall in Africa alongside Mali, the Central African Republic and Burundi. The decline in media freedom in Mali and in the Central African Republic has been attributed to conflict.
Parliament has been accused of curtailing media freedom through passing of retrogressive laws and pinpoints the government’s response to the media coverage during the terror attack at Westgate Mall.
“In Kenya, the government’s much criticized authoritarian response to the media’s coverage of the Westgate Mall attacks was compounded by dangerous parliamentary initiatives.” reads the report in part.
Journalists and media houses in the country suffered another blow last year when President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill 2013.
Recently, the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Bill, 2014, was tabled in parliament with the aim of preventing the media and public from scrutinizing the work of parliament.
Reporters Without Borders maintain that security must not be used as a pretext for gagging the media.
The report also cites that ‘’the movements of some countries in the index, which are indicative of their approach to freedom of information, has an impact not only on their own population but also on neighbouring countries because of their regional importance and influence and the fact that they are regarded – rightly or not – as models to be watched or followed.’’
Finland takes the lead in the index as the country that upholds the freedom of the press the most for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway. Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea score the lowest. China whose media situation is considered very wanting did not improve in its ranking as it dropped one place to position 175. The government of China still censors and jail bloggers and journalists who do not abide with their tyrannical law.
The new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani had promised to improve freedom of information but has yet to make any implementations. The new regime still watches the media coverage closely especially those covering on the Syrian War.
The report indicates that countries that have been known to be democracies and uphold the rule of law like the US for instance have not set an example as far as upholding freedom of the press is concerned as freedom of information is “too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices.” Reads the report.
The United States (46th) recorded one of the most significant declines after falling 13 places since the last World Press Freedom Index report in 2013.