Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Turkey 98th in Press Freedom Ranking

Reporters Without Borders has released the 2005 World Press Freedom Index report ranking 167 countries according to the level of freedom of the press. Turkey has been ranked 98th, fifteen places higher than last year.

BİA News Center
20/10/2005 Erol ONDEROGLU
BİA (Paris) - The Paris-based international organization Reporters Without Borders has released its annual report ranking countries according to the level of freedom of the press.

Of the 167 countries ranked in the2005 World Press Freedom Index, Turkey has risen to 98th place, 15 places higher than its ranking last year of 113. In 2003, it ranked 116th.

In spite of the new Penal Law that went into effect on 1 June, which has been criticized by many journalists, Turkey's position in the rankings has improved because of a reduction in the number of infringements of press freedom since last year.

However, prosecutions of journalists and publishers continue, as recent court decisions against journalist Hrant Dink and the staff of the newspaper Cumhuriyet demonstrate.

The report noted that although the top ten countries are in Europe, some Western democracies have slid backwards in the arena of press freedom.

The United States fell more than twenty places due to the imprisonment of New York Times journalist Judith Miller and the increasing judicial pressure on confidentiality of sources.

The US is ranked 44th overall, but US authorities in Iraq received a much lower ranking of 137th. Canada also moved downwards due to similar judicial decisions infringing on confidentiality.

Poland (53rd), Spain (40th), and Italy (42nd) had much lower rankings than many other EU members, many of which were in the top twenty places. Among other countries that are candidates for European Union membership, Croatia ranked 56th and Romania 70th.

The report named North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Eritrea as the three worst countries for press freedom, and noted that on a regional scale, East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East had the lowest press freedom rankings.

However, it applauded the fact that many countries in Africa and Latin America were rising in the index, such as Benin and Namibia, both at 25th place, and Trinidad and Tobago at 12th place.

The index also shows that many countries that have recently won independence from freedom or authoritarian government are high in the rankings, as are many impoverished countries, making it clear that a long history of democracy and a high level of economic wealth are not necessary conditions for press freedom. (EA/EK/YE)


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