June 20, 2006

2005 annual press freedom index.

Press freedom is being eroded in parts of the Western world, failing to advance in Iraq, but making progress in states emerging from repression, the watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says.

Its 2005 annual press freedom index again puts North Korea at the bottom of the list in 167th position, while Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland share top spot.

The top 10 countries are all European. New Zealand (12), Trinidad and Tobago (12), Benin (25) and South Korea (34) are the highest-ranked countries in other continents.

The Paris-based watchdog reports that Middle Eastern countries ( Iran 164, Iraq 157, Saudi Arabia 154, Syria 145) are among states where journalists have the toughest time and where government repression or armed groups prevent the media from operating freely.

"The situation in Iraq deteriorated further during the year as the safety of journalists became more precarious," RSF said.

"At least 24 journalists and media assistants have been killed so far this year, making it the mostly deadly conflict for the media since World War II. A total of 72 media workers have been killed since the fighting began in March 2003."

The US army (United States in Iraq, 137) also violated press freedom, as it did in 2003 and 2004, RSF said. "Six journalists were jailed in Abu Ghraib prison without explanation and not allowed to receive visits from their lawyers, families or employers. Four journalists were killed by US army gunfire between September 2004 and September 2005."

Iran once again had the region's worst record of press freedom, with seven journalists in prison and four others provisionally free and in danger of being returned to jail at any moment.

"Akbar Ganji is still being held in solitary confinement despite a more than 60-day hunger-strike, an international campaign and several official promises to free him. Cyber-dissident Mojtaba Saminejad has been in jail since October 2004, serving a two-year sentence."

Some Western democracies slipped down the index. The United States (44) fell more than 20 places, mainly because of the imprisonment of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and legal moves undermining the privacy of journalistic sources.

"Canada (21) also dropped several places due to decisions that weakened the privacy of sources and sometimes turned journalists into 'court auxiliaries'. France (30) also slipped, largely because of searches of media offices, interrogations of journalists and introduction of new press offences."

There was better news from countries which have recently won or retained their independence, says the report, disproving the argument that democracy takes decades to establish itself.

"Nine states that have had independence (or recovered it) within the past 15 years are among the top 60 countries -- Slovenia (9), Estonia (11), Latvia (16), Lithuania (21), Namibia (25), Bosnia-Hercegovina (33), Macedonia (43), Croatia (56) and East Timor (58)," it says.

"More and more African and Latin American countries (Benin 25, Namibia 25, El Salvador 28, Cape Verde 29, Mauritius 34, Mali 37, Costa Rica 41 and Bolivia 45) are getting very good rankings."

The bottom 10 countries were listed as:
158 -- Vietnam, 159 -- China, 160 -- Nepal, 161 -- Cuba, 162 -- Libya, 163 -- Myanmar, 164 -- Iraq, 165 -- Turkmenistan, 166 -- Eritrea, 167 -- North Korea


Post a Comment

<< Home