The long awaited press freedom report of Reporters Without Borders was released this week. And the results are anything but flattering to the European countries. While north european states like Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Estonia and Norway still remain on top of the chart, southern and eastern countries like Bulgaria, Italy, Spain and Slovakia were radically downgraded.
While Berlusconi’s war with critical media relegated Italy to 49th position, France lost eight points primarily because of judicial investigations, arrests of journalists, raids on media and meddling by prominent politicians, including President Nicolas Sarkozy.
37 places down: The biggest fall was registered in Slovakia and is ascribed to the adoption of a law imposing an automatic right of (governmental) response in the press.
The ranking is based on questionnaires with 40 criteria, including violence against journalists, imprisonment, physical attacks, censorship, confiscation of newspaper print runs, searches and harassment. The index also takes into account the degree of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for press freedom violations.
With Europe gradually loosing its status as a role model for press freedom, may be it is time to consider adopting EFFECTIVE measures for safeguarding press freedom on European scale. A newly drafted European Charter on Freedom of the Press has already been signed in 28 states. Let’s hope that it harvests more practical results than similar diplomatic agreements usually do.
For further information: EUobserver