Today 3rd May is World Press Freedom Day and the focus this year is on Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity. The 3rd May was chosen in 1993 by the UN General Assembly to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to recognise the contribution of reporters and to society and to evaluate the status of press freedom in the world.
In this context, a number of findings about the status of press freedom in the world are interesting to look at:
– Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) has a yearly report in which it rates countries performance on indicators such as the number of attacks against journalists (assassinations, imprisonments, threats, etc.) and media (censorship, pressure, search warrants, etc.). Conclusion: the top countries for 2006 are from Northern Europe (Finland, Iceland, Ireland and Netherlands) and the three worst are Erythrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea. Denmark which was leader in 2005 has clearly suffered from the affair about the caricatures of Prophet Mahomet.
As for Mauritius, it has slightly improved its ranking (unless it’s the others who are worsening!) from 34th in 2005 to 32nd in 2006. It has also moved up one place on the African continent from 4th to 3rd mainly because South Africa goes down from 31st to 44th in the world ranking.
– “Two journalists killed every week over last 10 years”, says a journalist safety survey released in March 2007 by the International News Safety Institute. The Top bloodiest countries over the past 10 years have been Iraq (138), Russia (88), Colombia (72)…
– According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, African countries top the list of worst countries for press freedom. Ethiopia is the country where freedom of the press has the most deteriorated as its ‘government launched a massive crackdown on the private press by shutting newspapers and jailing editors’. Two other African nations are also on the dishonour roll: Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
– And Freedom House’s report on the Freedom of the Press in 2007 said that in terms of population, only 8% of the world’s inhabitants live in countries that enjoy a free press, while 39% have a partly free press and 43% do not have a free press.