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Top Violators of Press Freedom Named

Top Violators of Press Freedom Named

North Korea, Burma, Turkmenistan, Libya, Equatorial Guinea and Belarus have been named the worst offenders of press freedom in the world, according to new reports by Freedom House and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

In these countries, independent media are either non-existent or barely able to operate, says Freedom House in its study "Freedom of the Press 2006: A Global Survey of Media Independence". "The role of the press is reduced to serving as a mouthpiece for the ruling regime and citizens' access to unbiased information is severely limited," the organisation notes.

The annual study ranks countries as "Free", "Partly Free" and "Not Free" according to their press freedom records. Freedom House uses criteria including the legal environment in which media function, political influences on reporting and access to information, and economic pressures on content and the dissemination of news. The study also assesses the state of online free expression in each country.

On a regional level, Freedom House found a disturbing decline in press freedom in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past 15 years, noting that the number of countries rated "Free" declined from 23 in 1990 to 17 in 2005.
Another region that experienced a notable decline was the former Soviet Union, where the number of countries rated "Not Free" rose from seven in 1995 to 10 in 2005.

CPJ said in its report "The 10 Most Censored Countries" that state-sponsored censorship is one of the most urgent threats facing journalists worldwide. "People in these countries are virtually isolated from the rest of the world by authoritarian rulers who muzzle the media and keep a chokehold on information through restrictive laws, fear, and intimidation," the group said.

Topping its list was North Korea, dubbed the world's "deepest information void." Not a single independent journalist works in the country and all radio and television receivers sold in the country are locked to government-specified frequencies.

To read the reports in detail, visit:

- Freedom House: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=356

- CPJ Report: http://www.cpj.org/censored/censored_06.html


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