South Asian countries rank among nations with the worst record on press freedoms according to an annual index by Reporters Without Borders.

The advocacy group puts Sri Lanka (156th) and Pakistan (152nd) among the bottom 20 of 169 nations listed.

The group says renewed civil war in Sri Lanka has made it very difficult for journalists to work, with threats to reporters from the government and rebels. It says censorship has become more frequent.

In Pakistan, the report says the military government prevented privately-owned television stations from working freely during a political crisis earlier this year sparked by the president's attempt to fire the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Reporters Without Borders also puts Afghanistan low on the list, blaming both the government and Taleban militants for promoting a climate of fear among the press. It notes an Italian reporter's driver was beheaded by Taleban militants while in captivity earlier this year.

The report says there is improvement in Nepal, where it says a post-war peace process and the return to democratic rule has allowed the growth of basic press freedoms.


Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.