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Reporters Without Borders: 50 journalists killed last year, 387 were jailed

Thursday, 28th January, 2021

MBABANE: Arnaud Frodger, a Researcher from the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said 50 journalists from around the world were killed last year.

Speaking during an interview with the ENCA earlier this week, Frodger said nearly a thousand of journalists were killed in the past decade and fifty (50) of them were killed last year and 387  others were  arrested for merely doing their jobs.

“The numbers were noticeably decreasing from 2018, but with the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020 one may have thought that journalists would be least exposed but they have been killed in almost everywhere all over the world. Most of these killings are targeted assassinations and are happening in countries that are at peace. Beyond these killings, journalists are arrested at a high pace all over the world which is also quite worrying. Journalists are also affected in targeted demonstrations now, we have recently seen this in Nigeria where two journalists were killed amid a demonstration. This means that you do not need to be in a country at war or you do not have to investigate corruption necessarily to get killed or arrested as a journalist, just covering a demonstration can put you in jail”, he said.

Eswatini is one of the countries in Southern Africa that are known for persecuting journalists, on or around March 2020 , government issued a warrant of arrest against  Zweli Martin Dlamini the editor of this Swaziland News for writing critical articles about King Mswati. A month later, the Eswatini Police kidnapped and tortured Swati Newsweek editor Eugene Dube for a similar offence, both journalists were forced to skip the country for their safety.

Hopewell Chinono, a Zimbabwean freelance journalist was granted bail on Wednesday after languishing for 20 days in jail. He was accused of publishing a false report on social media that a Harare woman lost her baby after a police officer enforcing lockdown rules hit the infant on the head, a claim which the police denied. He was also arrested last year in July for exposing the corruption surrounding the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers amid the COVID 19 pandemic.

Sibusiso Nhlabatsi , a human rights lawyer in Eswatini when addressing participants during the official launch of the newly formed Human Rights Journalists for Southern Africa (HRJSA) in September last year warned against the persecution of independent journalists.

"Journalists are the voice of the voiceless, they give the powerless a platform to speak to those in power. In this regard, human rights reporting does not only empower human rights lawyers with information to know what is happening on the ground but even those in political positions. We therefore call upon governments not to treat journalists as their enemies, once a journalist reports about issues , those in power should address these issues”, said the human rights lawyer.

Reporters  Without Borders: 50 journalists killed last year, 387 were jailed
Arnaud Frodger a researcher from the Reporters Without Borders (RSF)