India's ranking in press freedom falls to 138, attack on journalists blamed

Apr 27, 2018, 00:59
India's ranking in press freedom falls to 138, attack on journalists blamed

"A state of emergency has allowed authorities to eliminate dozens of media outlets with the stroke of a pen, reducing pluralism to a handful of low-circulated and targeted publications".

The RSF index notes that it is in Europe, the region where press freedom is the safest, that the regional indicator has worsened most this year.

Taiwan has climbed three places in rank while several countries in Asia, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, fell down on the index.

Taiwan, the democratic island nation that Beijing claims as part of its territory, is ranked 42 in the latest World Press Freedom Index, an improvement of 3 places over 2017, the highest score for press freedom in Asia. The ongoing wars in Syria (117) and Yemen (down one at 167) and the terrorism charges still being used in Egypt (161), Saudi Arabia (down one at 169) and Bahrain (down two at 166) continue to make West Asia the most hard and unsafe region for journalists to operate in.

Media in Kosovo suffer from direct and indirect political interference, financial pressure, and excessively concentrated ownership, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday.

Also in the Nordic countries there are worrisome trends, the RSF warns.

None of the countries of the former Soviet Union (except the Baltics) are ranked ahead of Georgia.

The US - run by Trump who has borrowed Josef Stalin's phrase "enemies of the people" to describe reporters - has also stumbled two places to the 45th position.

RSF says that the Index reflects growing animosity towards journalists. If a static ranking is indicative of a decline merely in step with the rest of the world, those which have dropped spots are leading the pack in rolling back press freedoms.

RSF noted that the White House's anti-press rhetoric had been coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations at other levels, with journalists facing different risks, including arrest and physical assault, for covering protests or asking public officials questions. "To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely risky political fire", added Deloire.

It accused Russia, under the rule of President Vladimir Putin, of "stifling independent voices within its borders and expanding its propaganda network in the world thanks to media outlets such as Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik".

"Xi Jinping's China is getting closer and closer to a contemporary version of totalitarianism".

"Censorship and surveillance reached unprecedented levels thanks to the massive use of new technology" in his first term in office, the report said. The former NY businessman has also previously referred to the USA media as the "opposition party" to his administration and has regularly blamed the country's news outlets for stymieing his political agenda.

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