Press freedom worsens

The situation for journalists was especially serious in ten countries: Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Moldova, Morocco, and the Philippines.

However, press freedom in Kenya and Sierra Leone improved to the Partly Free category with a new democratic government and the end of a civil war respectively.

The report is based on print, broadcast, and Internet freedom around the world. It assigns each country to one of three categories: Free, Partly Free or Not Free.

“Fewer and fewer people throughout the world have uncensored and unfettered access to information about their own countries,” Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor said in a statement.

Karin Deutsch Karlekar, the survey’s managing editor, said in a statement that in Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi “has been able to exert undue influence over the public broadcaster RAI.”

In Iraq, the end of Saddam Husseins regime gave birth to hundreds of new publications with a myriad of opinions.

Iraqis were also able to access both the Internet and foreign television broadcasts without restrictions.

Conditions also worsened in Russia, which had already been downgraded to Not Free in 2002 and in Bolivia, the government and opposition supporters threatened and physically harassed journalists, leading to a decline in that country’s rating to Partly Free.

Overall of the 193 countries surveyed, 73 – which cover 17 percent of the world’s population – rated as free; 49 – 40 percent of the world’s population – were rated Partly Free; and the remaining 71 – 43 percent of the global population — were rated Not Free, with state control or other obstacles to a free press.

The report, with a breakdown by country, is available online at www.freedomhouse.org/research/pressurvey.htm

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