Watchdog launches global press freedom ‘indicator’
Pakistan drops to 159th rank in press freedom index
PARIS (Agencies): Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday launched a new indicator measuring global press freedom by aggregating the scores of its annual index, from perennial table-topping Finland to worst offenders Eritrea.”In view of the emergence of new technologies and the interdependence of governments and peoples, the freedom to produce and circulate news and information needs to be evaluated at the planetary as well as national level,” the Paris-based watchdog said.
It said that its new indicator, launched after one of the deadliest years ever for journalists worldwide, stood at 3395, which would become a reference point. Northern European countries topped the rankings of its separate Press Freedom Index, while the small, reclusive African nation of Eritrea came last. The fluctuations caused by the Arab Spring in the rankings had now stabilised, the report said.”The ranking of most countries is no longer attributable to dramatic political developments. This year’s index is a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term,” it said.
The biggest gain was achieved by Malawi, which moved up 71 spots to 75th and the biggest fall was recorded by war-torn Mali, which tumbled 74 places from its impressive previous ranking of 25th. Selected rankings from Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 World Press Pakistan has dropped nine places to 159th rank in the list of 179 countries in the latest World Press Freedom Index.
“The ability of journalists to work freely in Pakistan (159th, -8) and Nepal (118th, -12) continued to worsen in the absence of any govt policy to protect media workers. Despite having a diverse and lively media, Pakistan remains one of the world’s most dangerous countries for reporters,” Reporters Without Borders said in its World Press Freedom Index for the year 2013. “In Asia, India (140th, -9) is at its lowest since 2002 because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because Internet censorship continues to grow,” the report said. “China (173rd, +1) shows no sign of improving. Its prisons still hold many journalists, while increasingly unpopular Internet censorship continues to be a major obstacle to access to information.
” As in 2012, the list is topped by three European countries Finland, Netherlands and Norway. Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea continue to be at the bottom of the list as has been in the last three years.”The Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said.”In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media’s economic crisis and conflicts of interest. While their situation is not always comparable, we should pay tribute to all those who resist pressure whether it is aggressively focused or diffuse,” he said.
According to the report, in almost all parts of the world, influential countries including India that are regarded as ‘regional models’ have fallen in the index. Observing that there has been general decline in freedom of information in South Asia, the report said that the Indian Subcontinent was the Asian region that saw the sharpest deterioration in the climate for those involved in news and information in 2012.
“In the Maldives, which crashed to 103rd place (-30), the events that led to the resignation of President Muhammad Nasheed in February led to violence and threats against journalists in State television and private media outlets regarded as pro-Nasheed by the coup leaders,” it said.In India, the ‘world’s biggest democracy’, the authorities insist on censoring the Web and imposing more and more taboos, while violence against journalists goes unpunished and the regions of Held Kashmir and Chhattisgarh become increasingly isolated,” it said.
“Bangladesh is not far behind. Its journalists are frequently targets of police violence. When they are not acting as aggressors, the security forces stand by passively while enemies of the media enjoy impunity and are rarely brought to justice.”Coinciding with the release of its 2013 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders published an annual global ‘indicator’ of worldwide media freedom. This new analytic tool measures the overall level of freedom of information in the world and the performance of the world’s Governments in their entirety as regards this key freedom, it said.