Thursday, January 31, 2013

Press Freedom: Political instability puts journalists in the eye of the storm

The same three European countries that headed the index last year hold the top three positions again this year. For the third year running, Finland has distinguished itself as the country that most respects media freedom. It is followed by the Netherlands and Norway. Although many criteria are considered, ranging from legislation to violence against journalists, democratic countries occupy the top of the index while dictatorial countries occupy the last three positions. Again it is the same three as last year – Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

In Asia, Japan (53rd, -31) has been affected by a lack of transparency and almost zero respect for access to information on subjects directly or indirectly related to Fukushima. This sharp fall should sound an alarm. Malaysia (145th, -23) has fallen to its lowest-ever position because access to information is becoming more and more limited. The same situation prevails in Cambodia (143rd, -26), where authoritarianism and censorship are on the increase.

“Regional models” found wanting

In almost all parts of the world, influential countries that are regarded as “regional models” have fallen in the index. Brazil (108th, -9), South America’s economic engine, continued last year’s fall because five journalists were killed in 2012 and because of persistent problems affecting media pluralism. In Asia, India (140th, -9) is at its lowest since 2002 because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because Internet censorship continues to grow. China (173rd, +1) shows no sign of improving. Its prisons still hold many journalists and netizens, while increasingly unpopular Internet censorship continues to be a major obstacle to access to information.
(End of quotes of RSF Press Freedom index 2013),1054.html