In India, ranked at its lowest since 2002, violence against journalists and web censoring continues unabated
India has dropped nine places to 140 in the list of 179 countries in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index, which its authors, Reporters Without Borders, said was the lowest for the “world’s biggest democracy” since 2002.
“In Asia, India (140th, — 9) is at its lowest since 2002 because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because Internet censorship continues to grow,” Reporters Without Borders said.
China (173, +1), it said, had shown no sign of improving. “Its prisons still hold many journalists and netizens, while increasingly unpopular Internet censorship continues to be a major obstacle to access to information.”
As last year, the list is topped by three European countries — Finland, Netherlands and Norway. Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea continue to be at the bottom of the list as has been in the last three years.
“The Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders does not take direct account of the kind of political system, but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media’s economic crises and conflicts of interest. While their situation is not always comparable, we should pay tribute to all those who resist pressure whether it is aggressively focused or diffuse,” he said.
According to the report, in almost all parts of the world, influential countries, including India, that are regarded as “regional models” have fallen in the index.
Observing that there was a general decline in freedom of information in South Asia, the report said the Indian subcontinent was the region in Asia that saw the sharpest deterioration in the climate for those involved in news and information in 2012.