The media is now freer in Kenya despite lagging far behind Tanzania in regard to protection of journalists, a new international survey shows.
The survey released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for 2012 ranked Kenya at position 71 out of the 178 countries covered. This was an improvement from number 84 in 2011.
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While Tanzania leads in East Africa at position 70, it dropped from number 34 in 2011 after the killing of two journalists in 2012, RSF said.
Uganda was ranked 104th, representing a huge leap from number 139. Rwanda and Burundi slipped in the international rankings.
Rwanda’s press protection dropped from 156 in 2011 to 161 last year while Burundi dropped two places to position 130.
“It was to be expected. With Ruvakuki Hassan who was sentenced to life imprisonment and three years’ imprisonment on appeal, not to mention harassment, beatings of journalists, this classification is rather tender,” said Mr Innocent Muhozi, president of the Observatory for the Press in Burundi.
He said a draft Bill that seeks to regulate the press in Burundi contained draconian provisions that could worsen the ranking in future.
The RSF report ranks the Democratic Republic of Congo at number 142, a slight improvement from number 145 in 2011.
The report comes as the International Press Institute (IPI) reports that a total of 133 journalists were killed in the line of duty or as a consequence of their reporting in 2012, the highest recorded since 1997.
This high level of casualty reported by IPI’s “Death Watch” has led to renewed calls for protection of journalists and end to impunity that often accompanies their killings.