Covid-19 “amplifies” global threats to press freedom, says RSF

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                La pandémie de coronavirus exacerbe les menaces à la liberté de la presse dans le monde, les États autoritaires, dont la Chine et l'Iran, supprimant les détails de l'épidémie, ont déclaré mardi des militants.
            

Reporters sans frontières (RSF), basée à Paris, a déclaré dans son classement annuel de la liberté de la presse que la pandémie "mettait en évidence et amplifiait les nombreuses crises" jette déjà une ombre sur la liberté de la presse.

The epidemic had encouraged certain regimes to “take advantage of the fact that people are stunned and that mobilization has weakened to impose measures that are impossible to adopt in normal times,” RSF general secretary Christophe told AFP. Deloire.

The ranking has seen little major change from last year, with the Nordic countries considered the freest and most isolated states, with Turkmenistan and North Korea ranking first among 180 countries.

RSF accused China and Iran – in 177e and 173rd respectively – to censor the main coronavirus outbreaks.

“Hyper-control of information”

Referring to accusations that Beijing hid the initial extent of the epidemic, he said that China “maintains its system of hyper-control of information, the negative effects of which on the whole world have been observed during the coronavirus public health crisis ”.

Europe has not been immune either – Hungary, under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, passed a special law on false information which was “a completely disproportionate and coercive measure”.

RSF said there was a “clear correlation” between the suppression of media freedom in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s ranking in the index.

While Norway has surpassed the index for the fourth consecutive year, Finland has finished second again.

North Korea took last place in Turkmenistan, and Eritrea remained the lowest-ranked country in Africa with number 178.

The third biggest jump was Sudan, which increased from 16 places to 159e after the removal of President Omar el-Béchir.

France loses two places to rank 32North Dakota, with journalists in the country sometimes victims of police violence during demonstrations, according to the press release.

Published annually by RSF since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index assesses factors such as media independence, self-censorship, the legal framework and transparency based on a questionnaire completed by experts.

“Chinese scenario”

Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been repeatedly criticized for cracking down on press freedom, moved up three places to 154e but RSF said it was because of the “fall of other countries” rather than a positive change.

He said that media censorship, especially of online media, had been intensified in Turkey and that the country was “more authoritarian than ever”.

Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, in 149e instead, also perseveres “efforts to control the Internet, using increasingly sophisticated methods,” he said, citing a law that would allow the country to disconnect the Russian Internet from the rest of the world.

“The prospect of a Chinese-style scenario (in Russia) is alarming,” said RSF.

RSF said “shutdown of the national Internet” is already a reality in the isolated Central Asian state of Turkmenistan, where the few Internet users can only access a highly censored version of the Internet, often in cafes where they must present ID before logging on.

“Almost everywhere in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, strongmen are strengthening their grip on news and information,” said RSF.

(AFP)

            

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