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Κυριακή, 29 Μαρτίου 2009

Press Freedom Index 2008




1 Iceland 1,50
- Luxembourg 1,50
- Norway 1,50
4 Estonia 2,00
- Finland 2,00
- Ireland 2,00
7 Belgium 3,00
- Latvia 3,00
- New Zealand 3,00
- Slovakia 3,00
- Sweden 3,00
- Switzerland 3,00
13 Canada 3,33
14 Austria 3,50
- Denmark 3,50
16 Czech Republic 4,00
- Lithuania 4,00
- Netherlands 4,00
- Portugal 4,00
20 Germany 4,50
21 Jamaica 4,88
22 Costa Rica 5,10
23 Hungary 5,50
- Namibia 5,50
- United Kingdom 5,50
26 Surinam 6,00
27 Trinidad and Tobago 6,13
28 Australia 6,25
29 Japan 6,50
30 Slovenia 7,33
31 Cyprus 7,50
- Ghana 7,50
- Greece 7,50
- Mali 7,50
35 France 7,67
36 Bosnia and Herzegovina 8,00
- Cape Verde 8,00
- South Africa 8,00
- Spain 8,00
- Taiwan 8,00
- United States of America 8,00
42 Macedonia 8,25
43 Uruguay 8,33
44 Italy 8,42
45 Croatia 8,50
46 Israel (Israeli territory) 8,83
47 Mauritius 9,00
- Poland 9,00
- Romania 9,00
- South Korea 9,00
51 Hong-Kong 9,75
- Liberia 9,75
53 Cyprus (North) 10,00
- Montenegro 10,00
- Togo 10,00
56 Chile 11,50
57 Panama 11,83
58 Kosovo 12,00
59 Bulgaria 12,50
- Nicaragua 12,50
61 Kuwait 12,63
62 El Salvador 12,80
63 Burkina Faso 13,00
64 Serbia 13,50
65 Timor-Leste 13,75
66 Botswana 14,00
- Lebanon 14,00
68 Argentina 14,08
69 United Arab Emirates 14,50
70 Benin 15,00
- Malawi 15,00
- Tanzania 15,00
73 Haiti 15,13
74 Bhutan 15,50
- Ecuador 15,50
- Qatar 15,50
- Seychelles 15,50
- Zambia 15,50
79 Albania 16,00
- Fiji 16,00
81 Guinea-Bissau 16,33
82 Brazil 18,00
- Dominican Republic 18,00
- Tonga 18,00
85 Central African Republic 18,50
86 Senegal 19,00
87 Ukraine 19,25
88 Guyana 19,75
89 Comoros 20,00
90 Mozambique 20,50
- Paraguay 20,50
92 Congo 20,75
93 Mongolia 20,83
94 Burundi 21,00
- Madagascar 21,00
96 Bahrein 21,17
97 Kenya 21,25
98 Moldova 21,38
99 Guinea 21,50
- Honduras 21,50
101 Guatemala 22,64
102 Armenia 22,75
- Turkey 22,75
104 Maldives 23,25
105 Mauritania 23,88
106 Tajikistan 25,50
107 Uganda 26,00
108 Peru 26,25
109 Côte d’Ivoire 26,50
110 Gabon 26,75
111 Indonesia 27,00
- Kyrgyzstan 27,00
113 Venezuela 27,33
114 Sierra Leone 27,75
115 Bolivia 28,20
116 Angola 29,50
- Lesotho 29,50
118 India 30,00
119 United States of America (extra-territorial) 31,00
120 Georgia 31,25
121 Algeria 31,33
122 Morocco 32,25
123 Oman 32,67
124 Thailand 34,50
125 Kazakhstan 35,33
126 Cambodia 35,50
- Colombia 35,50
128 Jordan 36,00
129 Cameroon 36,90
130 Niger 37,00
131 Nigeria 37,75
132 Malaysia 39,50
133 Chad 41,25
134 Djibouti 41,50
135 Sudan 42,00
136 Bangladesh 42,70
137 Gambia 42,75
138 Nepal 43,25
139 Philippines 45,00
140 Mexico 46,13
141 Russia 47,50
142 Ethiopia 47,75
143 Tunisia 48,10
144 Singapore 49,00
145 Rwanda 50,00
146 Egypt 50,25
147 Swaziland 50,50
148 Democratic Republic of Congo 51,25
149 Israel (extra-territorial) 51,50
150 Azerbaijan 53,63
151 Zimbabwe 54,00
152 Pakistan 54,88
153 Somalia 58,00
154 Belarus 58,33
155 Yemen 59,00
156 Afghanistan 59,25
- Equatorial Guinea 59,25
158 Iraq 59,38
159 Syria 59,63
160 Libya 61,50
161 Saudi Arabia 61,75
162 Uzbekistan 62,70
163 Palestinian Territories 66,88
164 Laos 70,00
165 Sri Lanka 78,00
166 Iran 80,33
167 China 85,50
168 Vietnam 86,17
169 Cuba 88,33
170 Burma 94,38
171 Turkmenistan 95,50
172 North Korea 96,50
173 Eritrea 97,50
απ΄το Alles Schall und Rauch


Only peace protects freedoms in post-9/11 world


It is not economic prosperity but peace that guarantees press freedom. That is the main lesson to be drawn from the world press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders compiles every year and from the 2008 edition, released today. Another conclusion from the index - in which the bottom three rungs are again occupied by the “infernal trio” of Turkmenistan (171st), North Korea (172nd) and Eritrea (173rd) - is that the international community’s conduct towards authoritarian regimes such as Cuba (169th) and China (167th) is not effective enough to yield results.

“The post-9/11 world is now clearly drawn,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Destabilised and on the defensive, the leading democracies are gradually eroding the space for freedoms. The economically most powerful dictatorships arrogantly proclaim their authoritarianism, exploiting the international community’s divisions and the ravages of the wars carried out in the name of the fight against terrorism. Religious and political taboos are taking greater hold by the year in countries that used to be advancing down the road of freedom.”

“The world’s closed countries, governed by the worst press freedom predators, continue to muzzle their media at will, with complete impunity, while organisations such as the UN lose all authority over their members,” Reporters Without Borders added. “In contrast with this generalised decline, there are economically weak countries that nonetheless guarantee their population the right to disagree with the government and to say so publicly.”

War and peace

Two aspects stand out in the index, which covers the 12 months to 1 September 2008. One is Europe’s preeminence. Aside from New Zealand and Canada, the first 20 positions are held by European countries. The other is the very respectable ranking achieved by certain Central American and Caribbean countries. Jamaica and Costa Rica are in 21st and 22nd positions, rubbing shoulders with Hungary (23rd). Just a few position below them are Surinam (26th) and Trinidad and Tobago (27th). These small Caribbean countries have done much better than France (35th), which has fallen again this year, this time by four places, and Spain (36th) and Italy (44th), countries held back again by political or mafia violence. Namibia (23rd), a large and now peaceful southern African country that came first in Africa, ahead of Ghana (31st), was just one point short of joining the top 20.

The economic disparities among the top 20 are immense. Iceland’s per capita GDP is 10 times Jamaica’s. What they have in common is a parliamentary democratic system, and not being involved in any war. This is not the case with the United States (36th domestically and 119th outside its own territory) and Israel (46th domestically and 149th outside its own territory), whose armed forces killed a Palestinian journalist for the first time since 2003. A resumption of fighting also affected Georgia (120th) and Niger, which fell sharply from 95th in 2007 to 130th this year. Although they have democratic political systems, these countries are embroiled in low or high intensity conflicts and their journalists, exposed to the dangers of combat or repression, are easy prey. The recent provisional release of Moussa Kaka, the Niger correspondent of RFI and Reporters Without Borders, after 384 days in prison in Niamey and cameraman Sami al-Haj’s release after six years in the hell of Guantanamo serve as reminders that wars sweep away not only lives but also, and above all, freedom.

Under fire from belligerents or intrusive governments

Countries that have become embroiled in very violent conflicts after failing to resolve serious political problems, such as Iraq (158th), Pakistan (152nd), Afghanistan (156th) and Somalia (153rd), continue to be highly dangerous “black zones” for the press, places where journalists are targets for murder, kidnapping, arbitrary arrest or death threats every day. They may come under fire from the parties at war. They may be accused of taking sides. Any excuse will do to get rid of “trouble-makers” and “spies.” Such is the case in the Palestinian Territories (163rd), especially the Gaza Strip, where the situation got much worse after Hamas seized power. At the same time, in Sri Lanka (165th), where there is an elected government, the press has to face violence that is only too often organised by the state.

Bringing up the rear are the dictatorships - some disguised, some not - where dissidents and pro-reform journalists manage to open cracks in the walls that enclose them. The year of the Olympics in the new Asian power, China (167th), was the year that Hu Jia and many other dissidents and journalists were jailed. But it also provided opportunities to those liberal media that are trying gradually to free themselves of the country’s still pervasive police control. Being a journalist in Beijing or Shanghai - or in Iran (166th), Uzbekistan (162nd) and Zimbabwe (151st) - is a high risk exercise involving endless frustration and constant police and judicial harassment. In Burma (170th), run by a xenophobic and inflexible junta, journalists and intellectuals, even foreign ones, have for years been viewed as enemies by the regime, and they pay the price.

Unchanging hells

In Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s Tunisia (143rd), Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya (160rd), Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus (154th), Bashar el-Assad’s Syria (159e) and Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s Equatorial Guinea (156th), the leader’s ubiquitous portrait on the streets and front pages of the newspapers is enough to dispel any doubt about the lack of press freedom. Other dictatorships do without a personality cult but are just as suffocating. Nothing is possible in Laos (164th) or Saudi Arabia (161st) if it does not accord with government policy.

Finally, North Korea and Turkmenistan are unchanging hells in which the population is cut off from the world and is subjected to propaganda worthy of a bygone age. And in Eritrea (173rd), which has come last for the second year running, President Issaias Afeworki and his small clan of paranoid nationalists continue to run Africa’s youngest country like a vast open prison.

The international community, including the European Union, endlessly repeats that the only solution continues to be “dialogue.” But dialogue has clearly had little success and even the most authoritarian governments are still able to ignore remonstrations without risking any repercussions other than the inconsequential displeasure of the occasional diplomat.

Dangers of corruption and political hatred

The other disease that eats away at democracies and makes them lose ground in the ranking is corruption. The bad example of Bulgaria (59th), still last in Europe, serves as a reminder that universal suffrage, media pluralism and some constitutional guarantees are not enough to ensure effective press freedom. The climate must also favour the flow of information and expression of opinions. The social and political tensions in Peru (108th) and Kenya (97th), the media politicisation in Madagascar (94th) and Bolivia (115th) and the violence against investigative journalists in Brazil (82nd) are all examples of the kinds of poison that blight emerging democracies. And the existence of people who break the law to get rich and who punish inquisitive journalists with impunity is a scourge that keeps several “great countries” - such as Nigeria (131st), Mexico (140th) and India (118th) - in shameful positions.

Certain would-be “great countries” deliberately behave in a manner that is brutal, unfair or just disturbing. The examples include Venezuela (113th), where President Hugo Chávez’s personality and decrees are often crushing, and the Putin-Medvedev duo’s Russia (141st), where state and opposition media are strictly controlled and journalists such as Anna Politkovskaya are killed each year by “unidentified” gunmen who often turn out to have close links with the Kremlin’s security services.

Resisting the taboos

The ranking’s “soft underbelly” also includes countries that waver between repression and liberalisation, where the taboos are still inviolable and the press laws hark back to another era. In Gabon (110th), Cameroon (129th), Morocco (122nd), Oman (123rd), Cambodia (126th), Jordan (128th) and Malaysia (132nd), for example, it is strictly forbidden to report anything that reflects badly on the president or monarch, or their family and close associates. Journalists are routinely sent to prison in Senegal (86th) and Algeria (121st) under repressive legislation that violates the democratic standards advocated by the UN.

Online repression also exposes these tenacious taboos. In Egypt (146th), demonstrations launched online shook the capital and alarmed the government, which now regards every Internet user as a potential danger. The use of Internet filtering is growing by the year and the most repressive governments do not hesitate to jail bloggers. While China still leads the “Internet black hole” ranking worldwide, deploying considerable technical resources to control Internet users, Syria (159th) is the Middle-East champion in cyber-repression. Internet surveillance is so thorough there that even the least criticism posted online is sooner or later followed by arrest.

Only a few countries have risen significantly in the ranking. Lebanon (66th), for example, has climbed back to a more logical position after the end of the bomb attacks on influential journalists of recent years. Haiti (73rd) continues its slow rise, as do Argentina (68th) and Maldives (104th). But the democratic transition has halted in Mauritania (105th), preventing it from continuing its rise, while the slender gains of the past few years in Chad (133rd) and Sudan (135th) were swept away by the overnight introduction of censorship.



Questionnaire for compiling a 2008 world press freedom index
How the index was compiled

Evaluation by region:
- Americas
- Europe and former USSR
- Asia
- Maghreb / Middle East
- Africa