The fourth quarter of 2022 (October-December) recorded 21 freedom of expression (FOE) violations, the least number recorded in the year. The figure is 55 per cent (55%) lower than that of the preceding quarter (July to September 2022) which stood at 46. The first (January-March) and second (April-June) quarters recorded 34 and 42 respectively.
Nigeria recorded the most violations (7), followed by Senegal (4 violations). Burkina Faso recorded three (3) violations, while Mali follows with two (2) violations. Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Benin recorded one (1) violation each for this quarter.
While the number is the least recorded during the year, the last quarter of 2022 was by no means a reprieve. The quarter was marked by a series of arrests and detentions as well as physical assaults of journalists and media professionals, involving at least 10 journalists, with Senegal, Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau leading the charge against journalists.
Apart from the attacks on journalists, there was a major administrative assault on press freedom in Guinea Bissau. The country’s authorities announced in October 2022, steep increases in new license fees for the media in the country. For instance, the new fees for the acquisition of commercial television with national coverage amounted to at least a 6000% increase on the previous fees.
Authorities in Burkina Faso suspended RFI programmes in the country until further notice. The country’s neighbour, Mali, which had suspended RFI in March 2022, this time around suspended a local media house, establishing a culture of state hostility against independent broadcasting.
The fourth quarter report also features other important freedom of expression and digital rights developments in the region, including redresses for violations and recommendations to key stakeholders.
Read the full report here.