Published: Thu, April 27, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Estonia and Slovakia rank in World Press Freedom Index top 20

Estonia and Slovakia rank in World Press Freedom Index top 20

Britain has dropped two places in the latest World Press Freedom Index, which ranks countries on the freedom of their journalists.

Europe is still a beacon of press freedom, but its good performance relative to other parts of the world masks an overall decline in standards, according to the Press Freedom Index, published on Wednesday (26 April).

Norway came out top of the index with the world's freest media.

While the Government revised the bill to incorporate "additional protections for journalists, removing an exemption for the security and intelligence agencies when seeking to identify journalists' sources", the RSF said that it still "lacks sufficient protection mechanisms". North Korea took over last place from Eritrea, which had occupied the position for a decade.

Yesterday, a few minutes after the publication of the report, former comedian Grillo chose to reply asking ironically in his blog: "Today I heard that I am the cause of the problem of free press in Italy", he wrote the Five Star Movement's figurehead in a post titled "It's all Grillo's fault".

RSF says that this year's report reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise.

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The RSF is concerned about the "danger of a major deterioration" of press freedom, "particularly in important democratic countries". Also known as Reporters sans frontieres or RSF, the media watchdog highlights that some Eurasian countries maintain some of the most repressive regimes for journalists globally.

Among the concerns raised by RSF was the passage of the UK's "menacing" Investigatory Powers Act last November, which met only token resistance within parliament, despite giving United Kingdom intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world.

In the list of 180 countries mapped by the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), India stands at 136, down from last year's 133, colour-coded again in red to show the situation as "difficult".

The index describes Taiwan's situation as "media freedom on hold", stating that "the main threat to media freedom comes from China, which has been exerting growing economic and political pressure on the Taiwanese media".

Finland lost its top place for the first time in six years after RSF said Prime Minister Juha Sipila had pressured public TV broadcaster YLE not to run stories accusing him of conflicts of interest.

"We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms - especially in democracies". The Index's bottom five also includes Turkmenistan (178th), one of the world's most repressive and self-isolated dictatorships, which keeps increasing its persecution of journalists, and Syria (177th), riven by a never-ending war and still the deadliest country for journalists, who are targeted by both its ruthless leadership and Jihadi rebels.

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