Sunday, May 7, 2017

Brian Whitaker - Press Freedom in Middle East Cratering in Age of Brutal Dictatorships

Among the 22 countries belonging to the Arab League, 17 are ranked as “bad” or “very bad” in the annual World Press Freedom Index published today by Reporters Without Borders. The eight classified as “bad” are Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The nine classified as “very bad” are Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. 

Worldwide, these account for almost half the countries in the lowest category. An even more alarming feature of the index, though, is that it shows press freedom in the Arab countries on a broadly downward trend. The table below compares this year’s rankings with those in 2010 – just before the start of the “Arab spring” protests. Since then, only six Arab countries have improved their global position and twelve of them have gone down.

The most notable improver is Tunisia – widely regarded as the only success story in the Arab Spring – which has moved up 62 places. Meanwhile, Egypt has dropped 34 places since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. Others showing a substantial drop (in double figures) are the UAE, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the tiny state of Djibouti. In a commentary on this year’s index, Reporters Without Borders highlights Egypt and Bahrain. It says many journalists have been imprisoned in both countries– 24 in Egypt and 14 in Bahrain – and they both detain their journalists for very long periods of time: read more:

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