Latvia in world top 30 for press freedom

Amidst a worldwide "drastic decline" in media freedom, Latvia climbed nine spots on the latest Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontieres, RSF) and now ranks 28th among the 180 countries included in the latest survey released by the world media rights organization Wednesday.

Lithuania stayed put in 31st  place from last year, while Estonia notched up its outstanding rank one position to enter the top ten.

Finland, which has topped the RSF Press Freedom Index for five consecutive years now, is followed by Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria, Canada, and Jamaica. This year's newcomers to the top-ten list include Austria, Canada, Jamaica and Estonia, while Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein and Iceland dropped out of the top-ten list.

Like last year, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea have been ranked as the worst performers in the Press Freedom Index, where in RSF's view, press freedom does not exist in these countries and they are "living hells for the journalists who inhabit them".

Russia slipped four positions in the index and now ranks 152nd, whereas Ukraine has dropped down two positions to 129th, while Belarus remained in 157th  place.

Egypt managed to climb back up a notch to 158th place, which it held the two years before last.

According to the Index's summary:

"Led by Field Marshal el-Sisi, the Egyptian authorities cite the need to combat terrorism as their grounds for systematically targeting media affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood or regarded as sympathetic to it. At least 30 journalists were arbitrarily arrested in 2014 alone on charges of organizing or participating in demonstrations or supporting a terrorist organization. And the authorities continue to use spurious grounds for keeping them in detention. Although Egypt rose one position in the index, the curbs on freedom of information are as worrying as ever."

Indeed, the two Al-Jazeera colleagues of Latvian-Australian journalist Peter Greste, who spent more than a year in Egypt’s prison system before his release last week – Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are among the above mentioned media workers unfairly tried and held by the authorities.

The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders based upon the organization's assessment of their press freedom records.

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