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50 countries with the best Press Freedom ratings

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    50 countries with the best Press Freedom ratings

    The World Press Freedom Index has become so influential that “many heads of state and government fear its annual publication,” according to its publisher Reporters Without Borders.

    Since its inception in 2002, each edition of the World Press Freedom Index has measured and ranked 180 countries by the freedom they provide journalists to work fairly and independently. The rankings are based on answers to an online questionnaire that focuses on six factors when examining the treatment of journalists in specific countries: pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure. Abuses and acts of violence against journalists are also factored into the annual rankings. Each country is given a score based on these factors from 0 to 100, with the lower scores being the most free.

    The five countries with the worst press freedom rankings this year are China, Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea, and North Korea.

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    #50. Senegal

    Press freedom rating: 25.61
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Though Senegal has a diverse media landscape, certain topics remain off limits for journalists to cover, and some media outlets have been subjected to intimidation for covering corruption. While it’s relatively rare, some journalists from radio stations that choose to interview government critics have experienced harassment and been convicted of defamation, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #49. Comoros

    Press freedom rating: 25.30
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    While Comoros guarantees media freedom in its constitution, most journalists in this African nation practice self-censorship because of the harsh penalties for defamation, according to Reporters Without Borders. Many journalists in Comoros lack adequate resources and training, and are struggling to organize themselves.

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    #48. Botswana

    Press freedom rating: 25.29
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 11.0

    In Botswana, the leading print, radio, and television media are all state-owned. Journalists and media outlets are severely punished if they criticize their president or investigate alleged corruption cases. Reporters point to the 2008 Media Practitioners Act as the source for the country’s restrictions on media freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #47. Belize

    Press freedom rating: 24.55
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Covering politics and criminal cases often lead to costly legal proceedings because media outlets in Belize are “extremely polarized,” according to Reporters Without Borders. Journalists also suffer from lack of resources as internet access is the slowest and most expensive of all the Caribbean countries due to inadequate infrastructure.

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    #46. Italy

    Press freedom rating: 24.12
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 6.9

    In Italy, 10 journalists are currently getting police protection at all times because of death threats from the mafia and anarchist groups. Journalists in southern Italy have reported harassment from mafia gangs that have broken into their homes to steal computers and work-related documents, according to Reporters Without Borders

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    #45. United States

    Press freedom rating: 23.73
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 37.4

    President Donald Trump has called the press an “enemy of the American people,” and attempted to block White House access to a number of media outlets. At the local level, reporters risk arrest while covering protests or asking public officials questions, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #44. Romania

    Press freedom rating: 23.65
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Problems like excessive politicization of the media, owner-centered editorial policies, and corrupt financing are becoming increasingly common in Romania. Journalists are also being suppressed by far-right political groups, linked to the Orthodox Church, that openly oppose press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #43. South Korea

    Press freedom rating: 23.51
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Largely thanks to the election of President Moon Jae-in, South Korea has jumped 20 spots in this year’s Press Freedom Index. Moon’s administration was able to end a longstanding conflict at two public broadcasters where reporters objected to the government appointing their bosses.

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    #42. Taiwan

    Press freedom rating: 23.36
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Journalistic freedom in Taiwan is being threatened by China’s growing influence, with the Chinese government putting more political and economic pressure on Taiwanese media outlets. An increasing number of Taiwanese media outlets are seen regularly siding with the Chinese Communist Party’s platform, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #41. Burkina Faso

    Press freedom rating: 23.33
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    While defamation was recently decriminalized in Burkina Faso, the media in the country are still subject to political pressure and the threat of heavy fines, according to Reporters Without Borders. The newspaper L’Evènement was suspended in February 2016 for publishing classified military information about a failed coup.

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    #40. United Kingdom

    Press freedom rating: 23.25
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    The Conservative and Labour parties both restricted reporters’ access to campaign events leading up to last June’s general election, and one BBC reporter was even assigned bodyguards after facing threats. The United Kingdom government has also started implementing the Investigatory Powers Act, one of the most extreme surveillance laws in the country’s history, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #39. Trinidad and Tobago

    Press freedom rating: 22.79
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 11.0

    In addition to fines, defamatory libel in Trinidad and Tobago is punishable by up to two years in prison. In 2017, several reporters were physically attacked in the country while investigating a story about the owner of a private oil company.

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    #38. Chile

    Press freedom rating: 22.69
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Though Chile has made progress in providing citizens access to information and internet use, journalists still face challenges covering topics like the Mapuche conflict, according to Reporters Without Borders. In 2016, reporters investigating corruption cases were targeted with defamation lawsuits.

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    #37. Andorra

    Press freedom rating: 22.21
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Reporters in Andorra frequently face challenges covering the country’s banks and conflicts of interests, according to Reporters Without Borders. While there is no law that specifically protects journalists, a 2014 law did establish the principle of journalists’ civil liability. 

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    #36. Lithuania

    Press freedom rating: 22.20
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    The leading media in Lithuania enjoy freedom of expression, but local newspapers often depend on political parties and elected officials. The issue of “fake news” is also a big concern throughout the country, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #35. Organization of East Caribbean States

    Press freedom rating: 22.11
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    In the several countries that is the Organization of East Caribbean States, journalists get little to no training and are paid poorly, according to Reporters Without Borders. A number of media outlets are under direct control of politicians, who have the ability to withdraw state advertising at any time.

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    #34. Czech Republic

    Press freedom rating: 21.89
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    In October 2017, Czech Republic Miloš President Zeman pulled out a dummy gun at a press conference with the inscription “for journalists.” Zeman has also referred to reporters as “manure” and “hyenas,” according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #33. France

    Press freedom rating: 21.87
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 28.9

    The French media landscape is largely controlled by big business groups, whose primary interest often isn’t journalism. Recently proposed legislation to combat “fake news” has also been at the center of intense debate, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #32. Slovenia

    Press freedom rating: 21.69
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    In Slovenia, defamation is still criminalized and well-known politicians often sue journalists and media outlets. Under a provision in the country’s 2006 Mass Media Act, anyone who feels insulted by a newspaper article can demand the newspaper to issue a correction.

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    #31. Spain

    Press freedom rating: 20.51
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 16.1

    The last few months of 2017 contributed to Spain’s drop in this year’s index, due to the clash between the Spanish government and the Catalan government following the region’s unilateral declaration of independence. Many journalists were physically attacked while reporting, and others were threatened by police, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #30. Liechtenstein

    Press freedom rating: 20.49
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    The two dailies in Liechtenstein are owned by the two main political parties, and the state owns the only radio station and television channel. Therefore, many people residing in the country opt to consume Swiss, Austrian, and German media, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #29. Cape Verde

    Press freedom rating: 20.39
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Cape Verde “excels” in media freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders, with attacks on journalists almost entirely absent. However, one of the country’s leading newspapers recently stopped producing a print edition and is currently only published online.

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    #28. South Africa

    Press freedom rating: 20.39
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Legislation from the apartheid era, as well as terrorism laws from 2004, limit the coverage of government institutions when national interest is at play. Reporters are often harassed and threatened when they try to cover certain subjects such as government finances or the redistribution of land to the black populations, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #27. Slovakia

    Press freedom rating: 20.26
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    This year’s murder of Slovakian journalist Ján Kuciak shocked the international community and the political parties within the country. Before he was killed, Kuciak had been doing research on the embezzlement of EU funds, as well as alleged links between the Italian mafia and the populist party that headed the ruling coalition, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #26. Namibia

    Press freedom rating: 20.24
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Namibia guarantees freedom of speech and maintains laws that protect journalists. However, the country still lacks a freedom of information law and journalists often practice self-censorship. Independent and privately-owned media outlets often face financial pressure because pro-government media receive more money from advertisers, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #25. Cyprus

    Press freedom rating: 19.85
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Defamation is still criminalized in Cyprus, and is punishable by up to five years in prison. The country’s political parties and Orthodox Church control a large chunk of the media, and two daily newspapers support the Communist Party, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #24. Latvia

    Press freedom rating: 19.63
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Journalistic freedom in Latvia has deteriorated with the spread of Russian “fake news.” Many elected Latvian officials also publish “local newspapers” written by their staff to promote self-interests, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #23. Ghana

    Press freedom rating: 18.41
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    While Ghana guarantees media pluralism and independence, the African country has only a few media outlets that provide thorough coverage. A third of the Ghanaian media is owned by the government or wealthy businessmen with government ties.

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    #22. Samoa

    Press freedom rating: 16.69
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    In December 2017 the Samoan Parliament restored a law criminalizing defamation after being pressured by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. In 2017 the country’s Human Rights Protection Party was also accused of using the Media Council to exercise more control over Samoan media.

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    #21. Suriname

    Press freedom rating: 16.44
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    While Suriname does have a varied landscape that Reporters Without Borders calls “favorable,” public expression of hatred toward the government in the country is punishable by up to seven years in prison under a defamation law. Current President Desi Bouterse was amnestied for the murders of 15 political opponents, including five journalists, in 1982.

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    #20. Uruguay

    Press freedom rating: 15.56
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Uruguay’s 2014 Law on Broadcast Communication Services encouraged media pluralism and established an independent broadcast media council, which helped create a favorable environment for journalists in Uruguay. Nonetheless, Reporters Without Borders has recorded several cases of threats against journalists since 2016, including a murder attempt on reporter Isabel Prieto.

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    #19. Australia

    Press freedom rating: 15.46
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Overall, Australia has free and independent media. However, coverage of refugees and Australia’s refugee detention centers are strongly restricted, and whistleblowers can face imprisonment. In January, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull proposed a law that would endanger the confidentiality of journalists’ sources, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #18. Canada

    Press freedom rating: 15.28
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 13.9

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has strongly advocated for a “free media,” which Canada guarantees in its constitution. However, a reporter for VICE News is currently fighting a court order requiring him to surrender his communications with a source from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and a journalist from The Independent is facing charges for his coverages of protests in Labrador.

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    #17. Luxembourg

    Press freedom rating: 14.72
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Luxembourg’s court of cassations refused to grant whistleblower status in January to one of two former PricewaterhouseCoopers employees that helped expose the country’s tax avoidance system for multinationals. However, the French journalist that first covered the story was acquitted.

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    #16. Ireland

    Press freedom rating: 14.59
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Defamation suits are commonplace in Ireland, and high damages awarded by Irish courts in the cases have spurred calls for a review of the country’s defamation legislation, according to Reporters Without Borders. Since the Garda Siochana Act was passed in 2005, interviewing police sources has been almost impossible, since the law bans officers from speaking to journalists without authorization.

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    #15. Germany

    Press freedom rating: 14.39
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 28.3

    During the 2017 Hamburg G20 summit, some journalists had their accreditation withdrawn, which unearthed the scale of illegal data the police have on members of the media. Germany’s law on the Federal Intelligence Service legalized spying on journalists outside of the European Union, which was revealed in February 2017 by Spiegel.

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    #14. Portugal

    Press freedom rating: 14.17
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 6.9

    In 2017, three television crews were attacked in soccer stadiumsa result of fans’ and managers’ hostility toward the media. In response, the Portuguese parliament increased the criminal code penalties for abuses against the media, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #13. Iceland

    Press freedom rating: 14.10
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    In 2010, the Icelandic parliament adopted the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which intended to foster a favorable environment for protection of sources and transparency. Since 2012, however, relations between politicians and the media in the country has worsened, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #12. Estonia

    Press freedom rating: 14.08
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    In Estonia, concerns about hackers attacking the IT systems of the Estonian media have been a major focus. Some local media outlets are under economic pressure from municipal government funding, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #11. Austria

    Press freedom rating: 14.04
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Since a far-right political party became the junior partner of a coalition government in December 2017, politicians often verbally abuse journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders, and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has declined to condemn the disparagement. There is also uncertainty about future funding of the country’s public radio and TV broadcaster.

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    #10. Costa Rica

    Press freedom rating: 14.01
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Costa Rica has the best record of all Latin American countries when it comes to press freedom and human rights, according to Reporters Without Borders. However, the country has several negative media practices, including judicial investigators spying on the media as well as threats and violence against journalists at demonstrations.

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    #9. Denmark

    Press freedom rating: 13.99
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 45.0

    Swedish journalist Kim Wall was murdered in Copenhagen last year after she boarded a submarine with Danish inventor Peter Madsen. The 30-year-old journalist had intended to interview Madsen. The murder rocked both Sweden and Denmark, where both Wall and Madsen were well known, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #8. New Zealand

    Press freedom rating: 13.62
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Journalists in New Zealand continue to demand changes to the country’s Official Information Act, which allows government agencies to charge journalists for information and stall when responding to information requests. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s administration plans to reinforce laws protecting whistleblowers.

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    #7. Belgium

    Press freedom rating: 13.16
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    A 2005 Belgian law on journalists’ right to protect the anonymity of their sources is one of the most protective in the world, according to Reporters Without Borders. Only an investigating judge can give the order to override this law. Furthermore, the judge can only do so when a person’s physical safety is at stake.

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    #6. Jamaica

    Press freedom rating: 11.33
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Jamaica hasn’t seen a serious act of violence or threat to media freedom since February 2009, according to Reporters Without Borders. The country decriminalized defamation in 2013.

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    #5. Switzerland

    Press freedom rating: 11.27
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    In March, more than 70% of Swiss voters rejected a proposal to end the TV license fee, which would have effectively ended public broadcasting in the country. Journalists at national news agency ATS (Swiss National News Agency) recently went on strike after the announcement of proposed layoffs, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #4. Finland

    Press freedom rating: 10.26
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    In December 2017, the home of a journalist for Finland’s largest daily newspaper was searched after she reported that a Finnish military intelligence agency had been spying on Russia, according to Reporters Without Borders. An investigation is still under way to determine if the journalist and her colleagues broke the law by publishing classified files.

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    #3. Netherlands

    Press freedom rating: 10.01
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Though the Netherlands jumped two points in this year’s press freedom index, a 2017 report from the Dutch Federation of Journalists found that Dutch journalists face online abuse as well as physical and legal threats, according to Reporters Without Borders. The country passed a law in February permitting journalists to preserve the identity of their anonymous sources when called as a witness in a criminal trial.

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    #2. Sweden

    Press freedom rating: 8.31
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Sweden passed the world’s first press freedom law in 1776, which also gave the public the right to access government documents. However, there is increasing concern over “fake news” as the country moves into the 2018 election cycle, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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    #1. Norway

    Press freedom rating: 7.63
    Number of abuses committed against journalists: 0.0

    Norway takes the top spot in the index for the second year in a row. Article 100 in the Norwegian Constitution, established in 1814, guarantees media freedom and grants journalists the freedom to work without political pressure or censorship.

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