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Eritrea, N. Korea Top CPJ List of Most Censored Countries

  • VOA News

Eritrea and North Korea were named the most-censored countries in the world by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based press freedom watchdog, which released its list of the top 10 most censored countries in the world today.

Other countries included on the list are Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, Burma and Cuba. According to a CPJ release, the list was compiled “based on research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to harassment of journalists and restrictions on Internet access.”

According to CPJ, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki created “a media climate so oppressive that even reporters for state-run news outlets live in constant fear of arrest.” Many journalists have left the country, which currently has at least 23 journalists in jail, according to the CPJ.

Furthermore, the CPJ said Eritrea has restricted Internet access to the point that fewer than 1 percent of the population can access online information.

The country also has the lowest cell phone penetration in the world, with 5.6 percent of Eritreans owning a cell phone.

North Korea

While North Korea ostensibly calls for press freedom in its constitution, information is very tightly controlled.

“Nearly all the content of North Korea’s 12 main newspapers, 20 periodicals, and broadcasters comes from the official Korean Central News Agency,” according to the CPJ.

Internet access is reserved for a few elites, and even then it is tightly controlled.Average North Koreans are reliant on bootlegged TV and radio broadcasts and DVDs smuggled from China.

The CPJ estimates that 9.7 percent of the population has a cell phone, a number it says excludes phones smuggled from China.

In what the CPJ calls North Koreas press freedom “lowlight,” North Korea’s lead Kim Jong Un had his uncle removed from state media videos.Kim had his uncle executed for being “counter-revolutionary.”

“The tactics used by Eritrea and North Korea are mirrored to varying degrees in other heavily censored countries,” according to the CPJ. “To keep their grip on power, repressive regimes use a combination of media monopoly, harassment, spying, threats of journalist imprisonment, and restriction of journalists’ entry into or movements within their countries.”
The CPJ said throwing journalists in jail is the “most effective form of intimidation and harassment used against journalists.”

Other offenders

Eritrea, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, and Burma are “among the top 10 worst jailers of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ’s annual prison census.”

The most common charge levied against journalists was “anti-state crimes,” the CPJ said.

China, for example, has 44 journalists imprisoned with 29 charged with anti-state crimes. The CPJ called China the “world’s worst jailer,” and ranked it the eighth most censored country.

Countries which nearly made the CPJ list included Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, all of which the CPJ said “have little to no independent media and are so tightly closed that it can be difficult even to get information about conditions for journalists.”

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