13 February 2015 / By Staff Correspondant The Daily Star
Bangladesh’s position remained unchanged at 146 among 180 countries in this year’s World Press Freedom Index.
Finland topped the list for the fifth consecutive year, followed by Norway and Denmark while Eritrea hit the bottom.
The yearly index by Reporters Without Borders evaluates countries on a range of criteria that include media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment.
This year’s index highlights the worldwide deterioration in freedom of information in 2014, said the Paris-based press freedom watchdog.
The factors that contributed to worrying decline of press freedom globally included control and tyranny over information, using religious censorship, growing difficulty of covering demonstrations and spurious plea of national security.
The USA ranked 49th, three notches down from its last year’s position. Iran, China, Syria and North Korea are among the countries that enjoyed very poor press freedom.
Countries ranked below Bangladesh include Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Vietnam, Iran and the Russian Federation, while India was placed at 136.
MEDIA FREEDOM DECLINING
Media freedom suffered a “drastic decline” worldwide last year partly because of extremist groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram, reported AFP.
All parties in conflicts raging in the Middle East and Ukraine were waging “a fearsome information war” where media personnel were directly targeted to be killed, captured or pressured to relay propaganda, said the news agency.
The Islamic State group is active in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and Cameroon, and criminal organisations in Italy and Latin America. They all used “fear and reprisals to silence journalists and bloggers who dare to investigate or refuse to act as their mouthpieces,” according to Reporters Without Borders.
Repression of journalists in Ukraine during the early 2014 uprising against its pro-Kremlin president, and in Turkey during the anti-government demonstrations earned both spots in the bottom quarter of the table.