April 20, 2016
Pakistan has shown improvement on the 2016 World Press Freedom Index unveiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) - up from last year's rank of 159 to 147 this time.
The RSF said most of the movement in the World Press Freedom Index is indicative of a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control over newsrooms by governments and private-sector interests. The 2016 Index reflects the intensity of the attacks on journalistic freedom and independence by governments, ideologies and private-sector interests during the past year.
The watchdog said journalists in Pakistan are targeted by extremist groups, Islamist organizations and the country's feared intelligence organizations, all of which are on RSF’s list of predators of press freedom.
Although at war with each other, they are all always ready to denounce acts of “sacrilege” by the media. Inevitably, self-censorship is widely practiced within news organizations. The Pakistani media are nonetheless regarded as among the freest in Asia when it comes to covering the squabbling among politicians, RSF said.
Seen as a benchmark throughout the world, the Index ranks 180 countries according to the freedom allowed to journalists. It also includes indicators of the level of media freedom violations in each region. These show that Europe (with 19.8 points) still has the freest media, followed distantly by Africa (36.9), which for the first time overtook the Americas (37.1), a region where violence against journalists is on the rise. Asia (43.8) and Eastern Europe/Central Asia (48.4) follow, while North Africa/Middle East (50.8) is still the region where journalists are most subjected to constraints of every kind.
Three north European countries head the rankings. They are Finland (ranked 1st, the position it has held since 2010), Netherlands (2nd, up 2 places) and Norway (3rd, down 1). The countries that rose most in the Index include Tunisia (96th, up 30), thanks to a decline in violence and legal proceedings, and Ukraine (107th, up 22), where the conflict in the east of the country abated.
“It is unfortunately clear that many of the world’s leaders are developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
“The climate of fear results in a growing aversion to debate and pluralism, a clampdown on the media by ever more authoritarian and oppressive governments, and reporting in the privately-owned media that is increasingly shaped by personal interests. Journalism worthy of the name must be defended against the increase in propaganda and media content that is made to order or sponsored by vested interests. Guaranteeing the public’s right to independent and reliable news and information is essential if humankind’s problems, both local and global, are to be solved.”
Published annually by RSF since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states. Because it is now so well known, its influence over the media, governments and international organizations is growing.
The Index is based on an evaluation of media freedom that measures pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework and the safety of journalists in 180 countries. It is compiled by means of a questionnaire in 20 languages that is completed by experts all over the world. This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.
The Index is not an indicator of the quality of the journalism in each country, nor does it rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking.
See the Index here
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