Latvia retains position on World Press Freedom Index 2021

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Latvia is placed at a creditable 22nd place out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) April 20. It is the same position Latvia took in 2020.

The summary for Latvia commended Latvian sanctions against pro-Kremlin media, but criticized the actions for lack of transparency. The same transparency issue was also attributed to availability of information regarding Covid-19 pandemic, "because governmental meetings were held behind closed doors and decision-making lacked transparency. While journalists had access to some information, the crisis raised questions about media viability and pluralism." Funding was also mentioned as an issue.

Nevertheless, Latvia comfortably rates above countries including the United Kingdom (33rd place) France (34), the United States (44).

Of the Baltic countries, Estonia ranked in 15th place and Lithuania in 28th.

Norway tops the Index for the fifth year in a row in 2020, while Finland is again the runner-up, followed by Sweden, Denmark and Costa Rica. The other end of the Index has seen little change. North Korea has taken the last position for the second year, followed by Turkmenistan and China.

Of European countries, the lowest-ranking is Belarus taking the 158th place, following last year's presidential elections and protests resulting in the arrest of over 400 journalists.

In its regional report, RSF says: "Even if some member countries lead the world in respect for media freedom, the European Union is getting more and more heterogeneous. Challenged by “illiberal democracies,” the “fight against terrorism” and the economic crisis, it has largely lost its leadership capacity. With a few exceptions, the picture is disastrous in the east and south of the continent. In Russia and Turkey, the persecution of government critics has reached levels not seen for two decades. The despots in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Central Asia keep on increasing their control over news and information."

According to RSF, press freedom globally has deteriorated with the pandemic.

"This year’s Index, which evaluates the press freedom situation in 180 countries and territories annually, shows that journalism, which is arguably the best vaccine against the virus of disinformation, is totally blocked or seriously impeded in 73 countries and constrained in 59 others, which together represent 73% of the countries evaluated. These countries are classified as having “very bad,” “bad” or “problematic” environments for press freedom," RSF says.

The full report can be read online.




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