News / Europe

Press Freedom Gets Mixed Report Card in Europe

Hundreds of Turkish journalists, some holding photos of recently jailed journalists, march to protest the detention of journalists in an alleged coup plot and demand reforms to Turkey's media laws, in Ankara, Turkey, Mar. 19, 2011.Hundreds of Turkish journalists, some holding photos of recently jailed journalists, march to protest the detention of journalists in an alleged coup plot and demand reforms to Turkey's media laws, in Ankara, Turkey, Mar. 19, 2011.
x
Hundreds of Turkish journalists, some holding photos of recently jailed journalists, march to protest the detention of journalists in an alleged coup plot and demand reforms to Turkey's media laws, in Ankara, Turkey, Mar. 19, 2011.
Hundreds of Turkish journalists, some holding photos of recently jailed journalists, march to protest the detention of journalists in an alleged coup plot and demand reforms to Turkey's media laws, in Ankara, Turkey, Mar. 19, 2011.
Lisa Bryant
Many Western European countries scored near the top of a newly released press freedom report card by Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres  (Reporters Without Borders). But overall the region is more checkered, with countries like Russia and Turkey placing near the bottom.

European Union member Finland tops Reporters Sans Frontieres' latest press freedom index. Eight other European countries also rank among the top ten in the world in terms of media liberty.

But RSF's overall rating for the EU is far from perfect.  Out of 179 countries, Italy ranks a disappointing 57th place, while Hungary, which has introduced restrictive media laws, comes in 56th. Greece's rates even lower - in 84th place.

Johann Bihr, head of RSF's Europe and Central Asian Desk, said there's a lesson here for the 27-member European Union.

"The European Union still has much to do to tackle the threats on democratic values inside the European Union," he said. "If it really wants to have a significant power on the Balkans, on Turkey, on Russia, if it really wants to give lessons to its neighbors, then the European Union should work really hard to be exemplary. Which is absolutely not the case."

In Italy, Bihr said, investigative journalists are on mafia hit lists. In Greece, they are also targeted in protests and feeling the heat of the country's economic meltdown: some journalist there are working without salaries.

Even some northern EU countries are far from exemplary. France, where RSF is based, ranks an unimpressive 37th on the scorecard, because of media policies imposed by the previous government, and because of restrictions by the military on journalists covering France's intervention in Mali this year.

"It really was a war without images. It was a war where in France, we could only get to know what happened here through the official communiques and military announcements, which is quite disquieting," said Bihr.

The picture is even grimmer for some of the countries outside the EU. Russia is ranked in 148th place -- near the bottom of the 2013 press freedom index.

Still, Bihr said the situation isn't completely bleak.

"The unprecedented mobilization of the opposition and civil society has opened the space both in the Internet and in the media, where we can see even journalists are gaining confidence and openly discussing political issues, criticizing the Kremlin," he said.

But he said that mobilization has been followed by repressive government measures, and new legislation criminalizing some Internet sites.

Turkey is ranked even lower - in 154th place.

"The situation is very serious as far as freedom of expression is concerned there, but at the same time, it's very dynamic," said Bihr. "It's the biggest jail for journalists in the world, with at least 70 journalists in jail, including 33 jailed for journalistic activities, which is obviously very shameful for a country which poses as a democratic model in the Middle East."

Bihr also linked any improvements in Turkey's ranking to strides in negotiations with Kurdish rebels, along with a series of legal reforms, such as amendments to Turkey's anti-terrorism law that protect and respect journalists.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid