posted on Mar, 6 2007 @ 01:26 PM
New countries have moved ahead of some Western democracies in the fifth annual Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index, issued today,
while the most repressive countries are still the same ones.
“Unfortunately nothing has changed in the countries that are the worst predators of press freedom,” the organization said, “and journalists in
North Korea, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Burma and China are still risking their life or imprisonment for trying to keep us informed. These
situations are extremely serious and it is urgent that leaders of these countries accept criticism and stop routinely cracking down on the media so
"Each year new countries in less-developed parts of the world move up the Index to positions above some European countries or the United States. This
is good news and shows once again that, even though very poor, countries can be very observant of freedom of expression.
Meanwhile the steady erosion of press freedom in the United States, France and Japan is extremely alarming,” Reporters Without Borders said.
The three worst violators of free expression - North Korea, bottom of the Index at 168th place, Turkmenistan (167th) and Eritrea (166th) - have
clamped down further. The torture death of Turkmenistan journalist Ogulsapar Muradova shows that the country’s leader, “President-for-Life”
Separmurad Nyazov, is willing to use extreme violence against those who dare to criticize him. Reporters Without Borders is also extremely concerned
about a number of Eritrean journalists who have been imprisoned in secret for more than five years. The all-powerful North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il,
also continues to totally control the media.
Northern European countries once again come top of the Index, with no recorded censorship, threats, intimidation or physical reprisals in Finland,
Ireland, Iceland and the Netherlands, which all share first place.
Deterioration in the United States and Japan, with France also slipping
The United States (53rd) 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
recognize the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.