On October 20 “Reporters without Borders“(RSF) international organization released its eighth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. The study was conducted in 175 countries and based on events between September 1, 2008 and September 1, 2009. RSF index was compiled by surveying 15 partner organizations and 130 correspondents of RSF, as well as journalists, researchers, lawyers and human rights activists. The respondents were assessing the press freedom in each country with a questionnaire compiled by RSF and including 40 criteria: ranging from various forms of pressure on journalists and media to legislative restrictions, the behavior of authorities towards the state-owned media and foreign press. Attention was also given to the degree of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for press freedom violations.
Press freedom must be defended everywhere in the world with the same energy and the same insistence. That is the main conclusion drawn from “Reporters without Borders” study. The organization was particularly concerned with the state of press freedom in Europe. Even if the first 13 places are still held by European countries (the first line is shared by Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden), year by year others such as France (43), Slovakia (44-46) and Italy (49) continue their descent. At the same time the “Reporters without Borders” emphasize the sharp rise of the state of press in the USA (20-22). The USA has climbed on the 20th line, comparing to last year, thanks to the US President Barak Obama effect. RSF also draws attention on the deterioration of the situation in Iran (172), reaching the gates of the infernal trio at the very bottom of the list – Turkmenistan (173), North Korea (174) and Eritrea (175).
Of the former USSR countries the most benign is the situation in Estonia (6), Lithuania (10) and Latvia (13-15). At a significant distance these are followed by Georgia (81), Ukraine (89-90), Armenia (111), Tajikistan (113), Moldova (114), Kyrgyzstan (125), Kazakhstan (142), Azerbaijan (146), Belarus (151), Russia (153), Uzbekistan (160).
RSF study stresses drastic improvement of the situation in Georgia, who leaped 39 positions, as compared to last year. Armenia’s ranking, going down by 9 ranks comparing with the previous study, continues to decline. RSF conditions this by several cases of physical violence against journalists and political tension that continued to affect the media and society.