India ranks 159th on the Press Freedom Index

India ranks 159th on the Press Freedom Index

44 environmental journalists murdered in 19 years

Politics

Society

May 4, 2024

India ranks 159th on the Press Freedom Index

India’s position rose two places compared to last year, but remained behind Turkiye, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

India ranks 159 in the World Press Freedom Index 2024 by Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF).

Press freedom in India remained under severe pressure as the country was ranked 159th out of 180 countries in a ranking compiled by the press freedom activist organization Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF), which annually publishes a global index on press freedom worldwide.

According to a press statement from RSF, although India has moved up two places from last year, it remains behind Turkiye, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which are at positions 158, 152 and 150 respectively.

RSF says its ranking is based on five indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context and safety of journalists.

The index ranks 180 countries based on journalists’ ability to work and report freely and independently.

“RSF sees a worrying decline in support and respect for media autonomy and an increase in pressure from the state or other political actors. States and other political forces play a diminishing role in protecting press freedom. This powerlessness sometimes goes hand in hand with more hostile actions that undermine the role of journalists, or even instrumentalize the media through intimidation or disinformation campaigns,” said Anne Bocandé, editor-in-chief of RSF.

RSF says its ranking is based on five indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context and safety of journalists

RSF says its ranking is based on five indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context and safety of journalists

According to the report, the Maghreb and Middle East regions performed the worst in terms of restrictions on press freedom by government forces. Over the past year, RSF said, governments across the region have attempted to control and restrict the media through violence, arrests and draconian laws, exacerbated by “systematic impunity for acts of violence against journalists.”

Since October 2023, more than 100 Palestinian reporters have been killed in Gaza, including at least 22 in the line of duty.

The RSF says Latin America is also showing alarming indicators of political repression of journalism. In Argentina, the new president, Javier Milei, has boasted of his attack on the free press and closed the country’s largest new agency. Press freedom is also under persistent political attack in Peru and El Salvador.

The US has performed poorly in the face of increasing attacks on journalists by political officials, including public calls to jail reporters, and more than 1,500 Russian journalists have fled abroad since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, RSF says.

The RSF reports a worsening repression of the free press in Asia-Pacific countries such as Afghanistan, North Korea and China, as dictatorial governments tighten their control over news and information. Vietnam and Myanmar also drop in the rankings due to capture in the mass media. Artificial intelligence is used for political purposes.

The RSF criticizes the rise of artificial intelligence in political disinformation and cites deepfakes for election manipulation. UNESCO reports that 44 journalists have been killed for publishing environmental stories over 15 years.

The report states that governments around the world are tightening control over social media and the internet, suppressing dissent and suppressing the spread of news and information. Journalists in countries such as Vietnam and China face systematic repression for expressing their opinions online.

In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, media censorship mirrors Russia’s repressive methods, with countries such as Belarus and Kyrgyzstan witnessing intensified repression against press freedom.

While Norway topped the rankings, with the highest press freedom in the world, three other Scandinavian countries – Sweden, Denmark and Finland – were in the top five, while the Netherlands took fourth place, just ahead of Finland.