By James Atem Kuir
South Sudan has deteriorated one place further away from improving access to information and ensuring safe environment for journalists according to the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF).
In the ranking released on Tuesday, the country dropped to number 139 out of 180 countries and territories this year, up from 138 out of 180last year.
The country scored 45.78 to fall behind Philippines and ahead of Myanmar which scored 46.14.
Norway has ranked first for the fifth consecutive year while fellow European nations Finland, Sweden and Denmark took up the second, the third and the fourth positions respectively.
The report cited that: “Close surveillance and intimidation are also part of the regime’s predatory methods and security agents often go directly to printing presses to censor content. Several of the newspaper Al-Mouqif’s articles were censored in this manner in 2019.”
However, according to RSF also known as Reporters Without Borders, South Sudan which has ranked between 119 and 145 since 2013, has seen some positive development since: “the signing of a peace accord and RiekMachar’s finally-achieved return as first vice-president have been accompanied by a reduction in the fighting, and no journalist has been killed since 2017.”
Eritrea ranked the last of all 180 countries and territories this year.
The RSF reports comes ahead of anticipated World Press Freedom Day commemoration on May 3, under the theme: “Information as a Public Good”.
The day is used by media stakeholders to remain governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also to reflect issues of freedom of press and professional ethics among media professionals.