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16.10.2007

Ukraine’s press freedom rating considerably improved

   

According to the Reporters without Frontiers Press Freedom Index just published, Ukraine is now in 92nd place out of the 169 countries considered.  This is a jump of 13 places on last year. There is however a long way to go. 

There is also, admittedly, a long way to fall.  Russia had only moved 3 spaces up from a rather dismal 147 to 144, while Belarus had remained at 151.  Uzbekistan also dropped to 160, while Turkmenistan went absolutely nowhere at 167, with only North Korea and Eritrea receiving worse ratings.

“We are particularly disturbed by the situation in Burma (164th),” Reporters Without Borders said. “The military junta’s crackdown on demonstrations bodes ill for the future of basic freedoms in this country. Journalists continue to work under the yoke of harsh censorship from which nothing escapes, not even small ads. We also regret that China (163rd) stagnates near the bottom of the index. With less than a year to go to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the reforms and the releases of imprisoned journalists so often promised by the authorities seem to be a vain hope.”

G8 members, except Russia, show slight improvement

“Russia (144th) is not progressing. Anna Politkovskaya’s murder in October 2006, the failure to punish those responsible for murdering journalists, and the still glaring lack of diversity in the media, especially the broadcast media, weighed heavily in the evaluation of press freedom in Russia.”

Bulgaria and Poland - Europe’s bad boys

All of the European Union member countries made it into the top 50 except Bulgaria (51st) and Poland (56th). In Sofia, journalists can be physically attacked because of their work. The climate got even worse after charges were withdrawn against police officers who beat up a journalist in May. In Poland, the authorities refuse to decriminalize press offences and the courts often pass suspended prison sentences on journalists. Ever since Lech Kaczynski became president in October 2005 and his brother, Jaroslaw, became prime minister a few months later, there has been an increase in prosecutions of news media.

Government repression no longer ignores bloggers

The Internet is occupying more and more space in the breakdown of press freedom violations. Several countries fell in the ranking this year because of serious, repeated violations of the free flow of online news and information.

At least 64 persons are currently imprisoned worldwide because of what they posted on the Internet. China maintains its leadership in this form of repression, with a total of 50 cyber-dissidents in prison. Eight are being held in Vietnam. A young man known as Kareem Amer was sentenced to four years in prison in Egypt for blog posts criticising the president and Islamist control of the country’s universities.

The quotes here are a very abridged and selective version of the press release available at: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24025 

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