Namibian President pledges commitment to media freedom (Pic. New Era)

WINDHOEK – Media professionals in NAMIBIA have expressed concerned over the downgrading of their country in the world media-freedom ratings for this year.

EDITORS’ FORUM OF NAMIBIA Chairperson JOSEPH AILONGA says there is need for all stakeholders in the sector to reflect on what contributed to the situation.

His comment comes after the NAMIBIA Media Ombudsman warned high-ranking officials against misusing their powers to suppress media freedom and access to information.

JOHN NAKUTA said there had recently been a number of incidents where politicians and senior State officials attacked media houses and their workers.

He blamed such developments for contributing to the downgrading of the country on the global press freedom rankings.

NAMIBIA has on Position ONE, but lost its ranking to GHANA on the REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS organisation 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

Mr NAKUTA referred to a case between the Central Intelligence Agency against the PATRIOT newspaper and the clash between the ruling SWAPO Secretary General and a journalist from the NAMIBIAN newspaper.

NBC News says the Information and Communication Technology Ministry has echoed the sentiments of the Editor’s Forum, saying the downgrading has equally puzzled him.

Minister STANLEY SIMATAA has promised to help review the situation, verify the reasons for the decrease in media freedom, and propose interventions to reclaim the top position.

He further says the government will speed up the adoption of the Access to Information Bill in the National Assembly.

A number of other stakeholder professionals have also commented on the fall of NAMIBIA on the world scale in freedom of the media.

A Research Associate at the Institute of Public Policy Research, DOMINIC MAXWELL, says financial difficulties in media houses, retrenchment of workers, and State censorship influenced the downgrading.

JEAN PIERRE ILBOUDO from the UN Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation says any country under the rule of law, with respect for freedom of expression and opinion, relies on media free from censorship.

The EUROPEAN UNION Ambassador to NAMIBIA, JOANA HYBASKOVA, has emphasised on the importance of the media as a disseminator of information.

The leading media experts have made their comments at a belated World Press Freedom Day held this week in the NAMIBIAN capital, WINDHOEK./Sabanews/cam