Sierra Leone has ranked 75 in the just released 2021 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, moving 10 places up from 85 in 2020.

Sierra Leone is ranked ahead of other West African countries like Gambia, Liberia, and Nigeria.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Sierra Leone’s media are pluralist and independent, and community radio stations, which reach a significant part of the population, broadcast without restriction.

Julius Maada Bio, who has been president since April 2018, has kept his promises with regard to protecting journalists. The 1965 public order law criminalising defamation and press offences, under which journalists were often arrested arbitrarily, was repealed in August 2020, while the Independent Media Commission law was revised,” they stated.

Reporters Without Borders further noted that during the 2014-2016 state of emergency resulting from the Ebola epidemic, the threat of defamation charges was widely used to gag the media, forcing journalists to censor themselves or in some cases even go into hiding.

“A journalist with the Freetown-based Times newspaper was detained on a libel charge for 24 hours in November 2019 in connection with a story that had not yet been published,” they added.