Europe Gets the Stink Eye

October 25, 2010 • Ethics and Quality, Media and Politics, Press Freedom • by

Paris-based NGO Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) releases Press Freedom Index 2010.

Last year was a particularly grim one for journalists, as the number of murdered reporters rose 26 percent, while violence against journalists increased by a third. This year the Press Freedom Index casts a glaring eye on Europe, noting particular concern about the deteriorating press freedom situation in the European Union, as 2010 saw several EU countries take a dive in ranking.

According to Reporters Without Borders secretary general Jean-François Julliard, “It is disturbing to see several European Union member countries continuing to fall in the index. If it does not pull itself together, the European Union risks losing its position as world leader in respect for human rights. And if that were to happen, how could it be convincing when it asked authoritarian regimes to make improvements? There is an urgent need for the European countries to recover their exemplary status.”

The report places 13 of the EU’s 27 members in the top 20, however it appears the other 14 are slinking toward the shameful side of the index. Italy rolls in at 49th, Romania at 52nd and Greece and Bulgaria tied up at 70th. Notes Julliard, “There has been no progress in several countries where Reporters Without Borders pointed out problems. They include, above all, France and Italy, where events of the past year – violation of the protection of journalists’ sources, the continuing concentration of media ownership, displays of contempt and impatience on the part of government officials towards journalists and their work, and judicial summonses – have confirmed their inability to reverse this trend.”

Yet things are looking up on top.  Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland ranked highest, applauded for their efforts in facilitating press freedom. Iceland chalks up special points for the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), a bill aimed at offering an unprecedented level of protection for the media. Sweden’s Press Freedom Act deserves similar kudos for helping to secure an amicable climate for journalists, providing shelter from judicial abuse.

On the bum end of the stick Rwanda, Yemen and Syria joined Burma, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran and Turkmenistan, listed as the world’s most repressive countries towards journalists.

See Reporters Without Borders for more.

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