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Study measures press freedom

May 03, 2011

On World Press Freedom Day, international organisation Reporters Without Borders has released Press Freedom Index 2010 for countries worldwide. The index clearly indicates that the freedom of press doesn't depend on economic development and that institutional reform and respect for fundamental rights do not necessarily go hand in hand.

Press Freedom Index 2010

reporters-without-borders-logo.jpgPublished by: Reporters Without Borders

“Our latest world press freedom index contains welcome surprises, highlights sombre realities and confirms certain trends,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said as his organisation issued its ninth annual index today.

“More than ever before, we see that economic development, institutional reform and respect for fundamental rights do not necessarily go hand in hand. The defence of media freedom continues to be a battle, a battle of vigilance in the democracies of old Europe and a battle against oppression and injustice in the totalitarian regimes still scattered across the globe.

“We must salute the engines of press freedom, with Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland at their head. We must also pay homage to the human rights activists, journalists and bloggers throughout the world who bravely defend the right to speak out.

Their fate is our constant concern. We reiterate our call for the release of Liu Xiaobo, the symbol of the pressure for free speech building up in China, which censorship for the time being is still managing to contain. And we warn the Chinese authorities against taking a road from which there is no way out.

Countries not conducive to journalists

Freedom is not allowed any space in Burma. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Mexico, countries either openly at war or in a civil war or some other kind of internal conflict, we see a situation of permanent chaos and a culture of violence and impunity taking root in which the press has become a favourite target.

These are among the most dangerous countries in the world, and the belligerents there pick directly on reporters such as French TV journalists Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, who have been held hostage in Afghanistan for the past 300 days.

Economic growth does not mean press freedom

The BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China – may all be at a roughly similar stage of economic development but the 2010 index highlights major differences in the press freedom situation in these countries. Thanks to favourable legislative changes, Brazil (58th) has risen 12 places in the past year, while India has fallen 17 places to 122nd.

Despite an astonishingly vibrant and active blogosphere, China still censors and jails dissidents and continues to languish in 171st place. These four countries now shoulder the responsibilities of the emerging powers and must fulfil their obligations as regards fundamental rights.

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