Dictators, weak democracy, intelligence laws, censorship – Global threats to press freedom

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Finland has had the freest press for seven years in a row in relation to 179 other countries in the world, states the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. Below are the causes that might cause any country to fall in the index.

Dictatorship

The rise of a dictator or a turn towards one-party system tends to weaken press freedom in actuality, even if new press suppressing laws are not introduced. Turkey (149/180) fell 51 places, Cameroon (133/180) fell 50 and Venezuela (137/180) fell 47 places due to dictatorship between 2005 and 2015 in the index.

 

Weakening of democracy

A democratically elected government may begin to weaken press freedom to ensure its public image and popularity among the public. Maldives (112/180) has fallenl 61 places in the last five years and Paraguay (109/180) 40 places between 2005 and 2015.

 

Coup d’etat

A coup may either weaken or strengthen press freedom depending on the values of the usurper. Coups seem to have strengthened press freedom in (Kyrgysztan (88/180) that rose 71 places after the 2010 coup and Tunis (126/180), up 38 places since 2010. However, in Honduras (132/180) a media controlling president caused the country to fall 81 places in the index between 2006 and 2009. Military coup in 2009 has made the situation worse.

 

Prior censorship

Prior censorship is a grave threat to press freedom. Macedonia has fallen 81 places in the index since 2007, partly due to prior censorship. The same reason has affected Israel’s (101/180) fall of 57 places in the index since 2007.

 

Anti-terrorism or government intelligence laws

Anti-terrorism laws or wide berth for government officials intelligence gathering are often used to suppress press freedom and withholding information in many countries. Japan (61/180), Jordan (143/180) and Sri Lanka (165/180) have each fallen 50 places in the index after the introduction of new anti-terrorism measures in the last ten years.

 

Radical religious groups

Radical religious groups threaten or harass journalists and use hate tactics and violence to suppress press freedom. Mali (118/180) has fallen 93 places in the index after the coup of 2011 and subsequent spread of jihadists to Northern Mali. The Central African Republic (118/180) has fallen 48 places since 2006 due to both Muslim and Christian groups harassing journalists.

 

Radical political groups

Radical political groups threaten or harass journalists and use hate tactics and violence to suppress press freedom both when they are in power and when they are marginal in society. Greece (91/180) fell 73 places in the index in last ten years. There the government inhibits investigative journalism and affects the work at national public services. Hungary (65/180) fell 55 places between 2006 and 2015. The greatest crash happened in 2012 due to prime minister Viktor Orbàn’s Fidesz -party introduced new media laws.

 

Source: Press Freedom Index 2005 – 2015

 

Text: Taika Dahlbom

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