Reporters Without Borders said the military coup in Bamako on 22 March and the seizure of the north by Tuareg rebels and Al-Qaeda offshoot Ansar Dine “exposed organisations to censorship and abuses”.
Many northern radio stations stopped broadcasting, the index said, and in the capital several Malian and foreign journalists were assaulted.
Africa saw a few country’s plummet in terms of press freedom, including Somalia where 18 journalists died in bomb attacks or after being directly targeted. Eritrea remains the most repressive media regime in the world in last place.
However, some countries in Africa have improved. Libya, in the north of the country, rose 20 places following the overthrow of Gaddafi. “The improvements nonetheless need to be confirmed by the inclusion of freedom of information in the constitution and the adoption of laws guaranteeing this freedom and providing real protection for journalists and safeguards for media pluralism and independence,” Reporters Without Borders said.
Yemen, however, where the Arab Spring led to Abd Rab Mansour Hadi taking over as president in February, has seen “no legislative changes” and “journalists are still exposed to physical attacks, prosecution and even jail sentences”.
Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan occupied the bottom three positions in the ranking, whilst Finland, the Netherlands and Norway occupied the top three. The UK was in 29th position, three places ahead of the USA.