Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its annual World Press Freedom Index and warning about the threat to press freedom around the world due to the pandemic. Nordic countries like Norway, Finland and Denmark topped the chart while North Korea, which has not reported a single coronavirus case, slipping down to the last position on press freedom index.
According to the report, the latest index showed a correlation between the ranking and press freedom violations linked to the pandemic. The media watchdog, in its analysis, said that the public health crisis is being used by the worst-ranked countries to step up harassment and attacks on the media and even to impose measures that would be impossible in normal times.
Analysing the press freedom in North Korea, RSF stated that foreign correspondents are not permitted to investigate the measures taken by Pyongyang to protect itself from the pandemic. The report highlighted that the dissemination of news about the coronavirus is also restricted by technical means as the internal transmission of documents is in the hands of the national intranet, putting almost total control of communications.
China, which has been ranked 177 out of 180 countries, has used the coronavirus pandemic to further tighten the grip on media by banning the publication of any reports that question how it has been managed. China’s attempt to conceal information became a major concern amidst pandemic after two whistle-blowers, who revealed the devastation of coronavirus in Wuhan, went missing.
“Of the 100-plus journalists and bloggers now in prison, some held in life-threatening conditions, at least three journalists and three political commentators have been arrested in connection with the pandemic,” said RSF in its analysis.
Iran also slipped to 173rd position due to allegations of hiding information on coronavirus cases as several journalists who published unofficial details about the coronavirus crisis were summoned, questioned, and accused of “spreading rumours”. The report added that the Iranian government cultivates a lack of transparency and uses the health crisis to sustain its anti-American propaganda.
(Image credit: AP)