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The United States (47th) also owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests.
Within the European Union, the index reflects a continuation of the very marked distinction between countries such as Finland and Netherlands that have always had a good evaluation and countries such as Bulgaria (80th), Greece (70th) and Italy (61st) that fail to address the issue of their media freedom violations, above all because of a lack of political will. There was little progress from France, which went from 44th to 38th, or from Spain (39th) and Romania (47th).
The Arab world was the motor of history in 2011 but the Arab uprisings have had contrasting political outcomes so far, with Tunisia and Bahrain at opposite ends of the scale. Tunisia (134th) rose 30 places in index and, with much suffering, gave birth to a democratic regime that has not yet fully accepted a free and independent press. Bahrain (173rd) fell 29 places because of its relentless crackdown on pro-democracy movements, its trials of human rights defenders and its suppression of all space for freedom.
Finally, Eritrea (179th) came last in the index for the fifth year running. Freedom of opinion, like all the other freedoms, does not exist under the totalitarian dictatorship that President Issaias Afeworki has imposed on this Horn of Africa country. At least 30 journalists are currently detained in appalling conditions. Some have been held for more than 10 years.