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Third Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index

East Asia and Middle East have worst press freedom records

Iraq is the world’s deadliest country for journalists

Reporters Without Borders announces its third annual worldwide index of press freedom. Such freedom is threatened most in East Asia (with North Korea at the bottom of the entire list at 167th place, followed by Burma 165th, China 162nd, Vietnam 161st and Laos 153rd) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia 159th, Iran 158th, Syria 155th, Iraq 148th).

In these countries, an independent media either does not exist or journalists are persecuted and censored on a daily basis. Freedom of information and the safety of journalists are not guaranteed there. Continuing war has made Iraq the most deadly place on earth for journalists in recent years, with 44 killed there since fighting began in March last year.

But there are plenty of other black spots around the world for press freedom. Cuba (in 166th place) is second only to China as the biggest prison for journalists, with 26 in jail (China has 27). Since spring last year, these 26 independent journalists have languished in prison after being given sentences of between 14 and 27 years.

No privately-owned media exist in Turkmenistan (164th) and Eritrea (163rd), whose people can only read, see or listen to government-controlled media dominated by official propaganda.

The greatest press freedom is found in northern Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway), which is a haven of peace for journalists. Of the top 20 countries, only three (New Zealand 9th, Trinidad and Tobago 11th and Canada 18th) are outside Europe.

Other small and often impoverished democracies appear high on the list, such as El Salvador (28th) and Costa Rica (35th) in Central America, along with Cape Verde (38th) and Namibia (42nd) in Africa and Timor-Leste (57th) in Asia.

Reporters Without Borders compiled the index by asking its partner organisations (14 freedom of expression organisations in five continents), its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists, to answer 52 questions to indicate the state of press freedom in 167 countries (others were not included for lack of information).

Continuing impunity in the Middle-East
The ranking distinguishes between the state of press freedom inside Israel (36th) and acts of violence against the press by the Israeli army in the Palestinian territories (115th). Fewer journalists were wounded or killed by Israeli army gunfire. Nonetheless, no investigation was conducted into the death of a Palestinian journalist in Nablus and dozens of reporters continue to be threatened when they try to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Violations of the freedom and safety of Palestinian journalists have increased in the West Bank and Gaza since September 2003 against a backdrop of chaos and violence. The Palestinian Authority (127th) provided no information about a supposed investigation into the murder of a journalist in the Gaza Strip. Several news media were ransacked and some 10 Palestinian journalists were physically attacked by unidentified persons or armed groups such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Too many journalists stripped of their freedom
With 14 journalists detained, Iran (158th) is the Middle-East’s biggest prison for the press. Not satisfied with putting journalists behind bars, the conservatives in 2004 began a systematic crackdown on Internet sites which sprang up after most of the country’s reformist newspapers were suspended or closed down for good.

The situation deteriorated in Algeria (128th). The privately-owned press was harassed before the April 2004 presidential elections, with dozens of journalists summoned by judicial authorities. Since his re-election, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has tried to bring the privately-owned media to heel. Four journalists or media owners have been sentenced to heavy prison sentences (three of them for press offences) and are still detained. Provincial correspondents are often the target of threats from local officials. In Morocco (126th), the authorities continue to be very sensitive whenever the press writes about life in the royal palace or the Western Sahara issue. Several journalists have been prosecuted without good reason and some have been given long prison sentences. And some foreign journalists have been expelled.

Non-existent independent press
In Tunisia (152nd), Saudi Arabia (159th), Syria (155th) and Libya (154th), the emergence of a free and independent press remains a mirage. In Syria, the information ministers have been changed, but the vice-like grip on the media has not loosened. The only kind of news report that is permitted is the ruling Baath party’s propaganda. Journalists who refuse to censor themselves are quickly forced into exile. In Saudi Arabia, the media are all directly or indirectly controlled by the royal family. A western journalist has been the victim of a terrorist attack for the first time in years.

On the other hand, despite a few cases of intimidation, Lebanon (87th) has recovered its position as the leading Arab country as regards respect for press freedom.

A particularly deadly war
U.S. behaviour towards the press in Iraq (108th) is ranked separately from the overall situation in the country (148th), which is one of the most dangerous places in the world, both for Iraqi journalists and foreign reporters. All are in danger of being targeted in the course of combat or by armed groups. Six journalists and media assistants have been killed by U.S. army gunfire without the U.S. military ever conducting proper enquiries. Furthermore, the new Iraqi authorities have not yet established a framework guaranteeing press freedom and have reacted in an authoritarian manner towards the pan-Arab satellite TV news stations whose coverage they view as pro-terrorist.

Evaluation by region:

-  Africa
-  Americas
-  Asia
-  Europe and former USSR
-  Middle East


PDF - 226.4 kb
Africa index


PDF - 403.9 kb
Americas index


PDF - 316.8 kb
Asia index


PDF - 356.5 kb
Europe index


PDF - 398 kb
MidEast index

-  How the index was compiled


Evaluation by region:
  The ranking
Country Note
1 Denmark 0,50
- Finland 0,50
- Iceland 0,50
- Ireland 0,50
- Netherlands 0,50
- Norway 0,50
- Slovakia 0,50
- Switzerland 0,50
9 New Zealand 0,67
10 Latvia 1,00
11 Estonia 2,00
- Germany 2,00
- Sweden 2,00
- Trinidad and Tobago 2,00
15 Slovenia 2,25
16 Lithuania 3,00
17 Austria 3,25
18 Canada 3,33
19 Czech Republic 3,50
- France 3,50
21 Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,67
22 Belgium 4,00
- United States of America (American territory) 4,00
24 Jamaica 4,17
25 Portugal 4,50
26 South Africa 5,00
27 Benin 5,50
28 El Salvador 6,00
- Hungary 6,00
- United Kingdom 6,00
31 Dominican Republic 6,75
32 Poland 6,83
33 Greece 7,00
34 Hong-Kong 7,50
35 Costa Rica 7,63
36 Bulgaria 8,00
- Israel (Israeli territory) 8,00
38 Cape Verde 8,75
39 Italy 9,00
- Spain 9,00
41 Australia 9,50
42 Chile 10,00
- Japan 10,00
- Namibia 10,00
- Uruguay 10,00
46 Mauritius 10,50
- Paraguay 10,50
48 South Korea 11,13
49 Macedonia 11,25
50 Albania 11,50
- Botswana 11,50
52 Nicaragua 11,67
53 Honduras 11,75
54 Croatia 11,83
55 Grenade 12,00
56 Mali 12,83
57 Ghana 13,50
- Timor-Leste 13,50
59 Thailand 14,00
60 Taiwan 14,25
61 Panama 14,50
- Tanzania 14,50
63 Fiji 16,00
64 Burkina Faso 16,25
- Mozambique 16,25
66 Brazil 16,50
- Ecuador 16,50
- Guatemala 16,50
69 Congo 17,50
70 Romania 17,83
71 Niger 18,33
72 Madagascar 18,50
73 Burundi 19,00
- Mongolia 19,00
75 Togo 19,50
76 Bolivia 20,00
77 Serbia and Montenegro 20,13
78 Moldova 20,50
79 Argentina 21,33
80 Senegal 21,50
81 Cyprus (North) 22,00
82 Kenya 22,25
83 Armenia 23,50
- Guinea-Bissau 23,50
- Seychelles 23,50
86 Uganda 24,00
87 Lebanon 24,38
88 Guinea 24,50
- Sierra Leone 24,50
90 Venezuela 24,63
91 Angola 26,50
- Comoros 26,50
93 Cameroon 27,00
94 Georgia 27,50
95 Tajikistan 27,75
96 Mexico 27,83
97 Afghanistan 28,25
98 Gambia 29,50
- Lesotho 29,50
100 Zambia 29,75
101 Malawi 31,00
- Swaziland 31,00
103 Kuwait 31,67
104 Central African Republic 32,50
- Qatar 32,50
106 Chad 33,25
107 Kyrgyzstan 35,25
108 United States of America (in Iraq) 36,00
109 Cambodia 36,50
- Sri Lanka 36,50
111 Philippines 36,63
112 Ethiopia 37,00
113 Rwanda 37,25
- Turkey 37,25
115 Gabon 37,50
- Israel (Occupied Territories) 37,50
117 Indonesia 37,75
- Nigeria 37,75
119 Tonga 38,17
120 India 38,50
121 Jordan 39,13
122 Malaysia 39,83
123 Liberia 40,00
- Peru 40,00
125 Haiti 42,13
126 Morocco 43,00
127 Palestinian Authority 43,17
128 Algeria 43,50
- Egypt 43,50
- Somalia 43,50
131 Kazakhstan 44,17
132 Sudan 44,25
133 Equatorial Guinea 46,25
134 Colombia 47,38
135 Yemen 48,00
136 Azerbaijan 49,67
137 United Arab Emirates 50,25
138 Mauritania 51,00
- Ukraine 51,00
140 Russia 51,38
141 Democratic Republic of Congo 51,50
142 Uzbekistan 52,13
143 Bahrein 52,50
144 Belarus 54,10
145 Djibouti 55,00
146 Bhutan 55,83
147 Singapore 57,00
148 Iraq 58,50
149 Côte d’Ivoire 60,38
150 Pakistan 61,75
151 Bangladesh 62,50
152 Tunisia 62,67
153 Laos 64,33
154 Libya 65,00
155 Syria 67,50
- Zimbabwe 67,50
157 Maldives 69,17
158 Iran 78,30
159 Saudi Arabia 79,17
160 Nepal 84,00
161 Vietnam 86,88
162 China 92,33
163 Eritrea 93,25
164 Turkmenistan 99,83
165 Burma 103,63
166 Cuba 106,83
167 North Korea 107,50
Annual worlwide press freedom index 2007 Annual worlwide press freedom index 2006 Annual worlwide press freedom index 2005 Annual worlwide press freedom index 2004 Annual worlwide press freedom index 2003 Annual worlwide press freedom index 2002