Arresting Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya would have a negative
effect on SAÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s global media freedom rankings, says Reporters Sans
Frontiers (RSF), writes Thom McLachlan in Business Day.
SA was still placed ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œwithin the cutoffÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â of countries with a progressive press policy, according to the Paris-based international media watchdogÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s annual media freedom index released this week.
The research was completed last month , before reports in the Sunday Times that its editor and a senior journalist were being targeted by government and that their arrest was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œimminentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
The group this week released its annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2007, which records SA at position 43 out of 169 countries, one up from last year.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œShould these two journalists be arrested, IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m sure it would have a negative impact on the countryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rankings next year,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â the bodyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s news editor, Jeff Julliard, said.
Sunday Times lawyer Eric van den Berg said he was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œunsure what the status of the arrests wasÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
He had written to the authorities for clarity but had not received a reply.
Regarding the countryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ranking, Julliard said SA was still perceived to have a stable and positive press freedom policy, despite having lost ground by about 20 levels in the rankings since 2003.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWithin the first 50 countries there is a lot of change from year to year. It is when you are not within the first 50 that there could be signs of problems ahead,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Julliard said.
Click here to read the full report, posted in Business Day's website.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â