Worldwide Press Freedom Index

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres, or RSF) released its 2006 Worldwide Press Freedom Index last week, reflecting “the degree of freedom journalists and news organisations enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the state to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.” RSF compiled the list based solely on violations of a free press that occurred between 1-Sep-05 and 1-Sep-06. The list does not take into account general violations of human rights. RSF uses a questionnaire of 50 criteria to assess every violation of press freedom, from physical violence on journalists to censorship and harassment of news media, and the legal and governmental environment for press freedoms and the free flow of information online. It sent questionnaires to other groups concerned with freedom of expression, journalists, jurists, and human rights activists around the world.

The Index lists these fourteen countries as the most conducive to a free press: Finland, Iceland, Ireland, and Netherlands (tied for 1st), Czech Republic (5th), Estonia and Norway (6th), Slovakia and Switzerland (8th), Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, and Slovenia (10th). The countries most hostile to a free press, occupying places 159-168, are Nepal, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Burma, Cuba, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, and North Korea.

The United States is tied for 53rd with Botswana, Croatia, and Tonga. It ranks behind Japan (51st), Israel (50th), South Africa (44th), France (tied for 35th), South Korea (31st), and Bolivia (16th), among others. RSF states “[t]he United States has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.”

Reporters sans frontières, Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index-2006; ‘Enemies of the internet’ named, BBC News, 7-Nov-06

4 thoughts on “Worldwide Press Freedom Index”

  1. This month’s Glamour magazine presents a revealing article about the lack of press freedom in Mexico. In focuses on Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho (Glamour Magazine, pg. 224). This courageous woman writes about the toughest criminals of Mexico: the established pedophile rings in Cancun, the poverty of Cancun’s local residents who were forced to move outside the attractive tourist area, the HIV epidemic, domestic violence, and government corruption. Writing about these topics takes a great amount of courage because of the lack of journalistic freedom in Mexico; Cacho experiences constant threats on her life. In the past, she has been brutally beaten, raped, and sued for libel for her exposes. Last year, a Mexican governor was caught allegedly plotting to have her arrested and killed. The means taken to put restrictions on freedom of the press are atrocious.
    Mexico ranks number 132 on the Worldwide Press and Freedom Index. Brave journalists such as Cacho deserve to be admired for their hard work and the selfless risks they take every day to create awareness about their countries’ crises that would otherwise lurk in the dark.

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