21 October 2010

Press Freedom Update

Reporters Without Borders has come out with its annual press freedom index. The 10 lowest ranked countries are: Rwanda, Yemen, China, Sudan, Syria, Burma, Iran, Turkmenistan, North Korea and, at the bottom, Eritrea.

At the top of the list are: Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, Estonia and Ireland.

The United States is ranked 20th.

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-Fran├žois Julliard said: “We must salute the engines of press freedom, with Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland at their head. We must also pay homage to the human rights activists, journalists and bloggers throughout the world who bravely defend the right to speak out. Their fate is our constant concern. We reiterate our call for the release of Liu Xiaobo, the symbol of the pressure for free speech building up in China, which censorship for the time being is still managing to contain. And we warn the Chinese authorities against taking a road from which there is no way out.”

Liu Xiaobo is the human-rights campaigner who just won the Nobel Peace Prize and is imprisoned in China.

In a statement, Julliard continued: “We are also worried by the harsher line being taken by governments at the other end of the index. Rwanda, Yemen and Syria have joined Burma and North Korea in the group of the world’s most repressive countries towards journalists. This does not bode well for 2011. Unfortunately, the trend in the most authoritarian countries is not one of improvement.”

The full report includes rankings for all countries as well as an explanation of how the index was compiled. VOA’s report on this year’s index is here.

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