World press freedom deteriorated in 2015, especially in the Americas, advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Wednesday as it released its annual rankings, warning of «a new era of propaganda», while Estonia placed 14th, down from 10th place a year before.
Press freedom declining around the world, including in Estonia
The World Press Freedom Index ranks 180 countries on indicators such as media independence, self-censorship, the rule of law, transparency and abuses.
The top five was made up of Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and New Zealand, while among the lowest ranked countries were Syria, at 177th place, just below China (176th) but above North Korea (179th) and last placed Eritrea.
This year Estonia placed 14th, while in 2015 it ranked 10th. «Estonia has been among the top ten in RSF's press freedom index for several years but it is easy to bring defamation lawsuits and journalists have not been spared. Legislative amendments adopted in 2010 made it possible for judges to jail reporters who refuse to reveal their sources for stories about serious crimes,» it is written in the report.
This year's index saw a decline in all parts of the world, Christophe Deloire, secretary general of the Paris-based group told AFP, with Latin America of particular concern.
«All of the indicators show a deterioration. Numerous authorities are trying to regain control of their countries, fearing overly open public debate,» he said.
«Today, it is increasingly easy for powers to appeal directly to the public through new technologies, and so there is a greater degree of violence against those who represent independent information,» he added.
«We are entering a new era of propaganda where new technologies allow the low-cost dissemination of their own communication, their information, as dictated. On the other side, journalists are the ones who get in the way.»
The situation was particularly grave in Latin America, the report said, highlighting «institutional violence» in Venezuela and Ecuador, organised crime in Honduras, impunity in Colombia, corruption in Brazil and media concentration in Argentina as the main obstacles to press freedom.