At a time when the health crisis is adding obstacles to news coverage.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warns that the exercise of journalism is "totally or partially blocked" in more than 130 countries.
In its annual world press freedom ranking, published Tuesday, 73% of the 180 countries assessed are characterized by situations deemed "very serious, difficult, or problematic" for the profession.
The Covid, an opportunity to restrict press freedom
If this share of territories painted in black, red or orange on the world map remains stable over one year, only 12 countries out of 180, or 7%, against 8% in 2020, show a "good situation". A “white area that has never been so small since 2013.” In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic represented “a form of opportunity for states that have been able to restrict press freedom,” underlines the secretary General of RSF, Christophe Deloire. It has thus exacerbated the repression in the most muzzled countries such as Saudi Arabia (170th) or Syria (173rd, +1).
The pandemic has also "caused a huge closure of access" to the field and to sources for journalists, "for a legitimate part, when it came to health precautions, but also illegitimate.
In both cases, the question is: will these accesses be reopened?
», Christophe Deloire is alarmed.
The situation is all the more worrying as journalism is the main bulwark against the "virality of disinformation across borders, on digital platforms and social networks", sometimes fueled by power.
Governments impose their version of the truth
Presidents Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil (111th, -4) and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela (148th, -1) have thus promoted drugs whose effectiveness has never been proven by the medical world, recalls the NGO. In Iran (174th, -1), the authorities have increased the convictions of journalists to better minimize the number of deaths linked to Covid-19. Egypt (166th), it bans the publication of figures on the pandemic other than those of the Ministry of Health. Malaysia, which has the clearest dropout (119th, -18), recently passed "an anti-fake news decree" giving the government the right to impose its own version of the truth.
And in Hungary (92nd, -3), where Viktor Orbán's regime uninhibitedly assumes the repression of press freedom, information on the coronavirus is blocked in particular by the emergency legislation in force since March 2020, which criminalizes "the dissemination of false information".
At the bottom of the ranking are still China (177th), ahead of Turkmenistan (178th, +1), North Korea (179, +1) and Eritrea (180th, -2).
Europe, the safest region for journalists
At the top of the table, Norway retains first place for the fifth consecutive year, ahead of Finland and Sweden, which has once again become third to the detriment of Denmark (4th, -1). Note, the exit of Germany (13th, -2) from the white zone because dozens of journalists were attacked "by demonstrators close to extremist movements and conspirators during anti-health restrictions rallies".
Europe remains the safest region but aggressions and abusive arrests have multiplied there, especially in France (34th) during demonstrations against the “comprehensive security” bill, in Italy (41st), in Poland (64th). , -2), Greece (70th, -5), Serbia (93rd) and Bulgaria (112th, -1). Across the Atlantic, the situation remains "rather good" in the United States (44th, +1) "even if the last year of Donald Trump's mandate was characterized by a record number of attacks (nearly 400) and 'arrests of journalists (130) "
The red zone now welcomes Brazil, "insults, stigmatization and orchestration of public humiliations of journalists having become the hallmark of President Bolsonaro".
It still hosts Russia (150, -1) which has worked to "limit the coverage" of "demonstrations linked to the opponent Alexeï Navalny".
Finally, if it remains the "most violent" continent for journalists, Africa has experienced some improvement with Burundi (147th, +13), Sierra Leone (75th, +10) and Mali (99th, +9) .
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Freedom of press