Reporters Without Borders – Press Freedom Index 2007

19 Oct

Reporters without Borders (RSF) has published its Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007 which showcases the state of press freedom around the world for the past year.

The top 10 in the list are all noticeably held by European nations; with Iceland, Norway, Estonia, Slovakia and Belgium leading ahead. The press in European countries are generally free with a few exceptions such as Bulgaria and Poland which has been dubbed by the organisation as “Europe’s bad boys”. Much of it could be attributed to EU, which, as a regional body, generally ensures that its member states respect human rights. Bulgaria and Poland, which are the new entrants to the regional bloc would have to acclimatise themselves to these new rules and regulations.

On the other hand, the top ten bottom of the list are held by countries with closed economies, including Uzbekistan, Laos, Vietnam, China, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

The only exception at the bottom of the list is China which is sticking out like a sore thumb. Though its economy is progressing at an alarming rate, and is already a world major trading nation, it still persistently ranks low in terms of press ranking. This will put to test the widely held belief by academics, democracy and free trade activists who believe that economic liberalisation indirectly leads to political liberalisation and greater press freedom. While the human rights records of China is facing greater international scrutiny as it prepares for the upcoming 2008 Olympics, it appears that the Communist Party of China is not letting up on clamping down dissent. Prior to the 17th Congress, activists are arrested along with the closure of thousands of blogs and online message boards.

In this report, RSF also highlighted concerns on state persecution towards bloggers, which it says are “threatened as much as journalists in traditional media.”. It cites the example of bloggers being arrested or websites being shut in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Egypt. The press advocacy organisation claims China and Vietnam each holds 50 and 8 cyber-dissidents in prison respectively. Kareem Amer of Egypt was sentenced to four years in prison for blog postings “criticising the president and Islamist control of the country’s universities.”

In the Middle East, the Iraqi press, like the entire country itself, is engulfed in violence. More than 200 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003 according to RSF. In Palestine, the inter-rivalry between political factions of Hamas and Fatah have eroded press freedom through “hostage-taking, arrests, physical attacks and ransacking of news organisations”.

Download the Report in pdf format

Download the press rankings in jpg format:

Ranking Page 1 Ranking Page 2Ranking Page 3Ranking Page 4

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