Palestine improves in annual press freedom index

BETHLEHEM, January 30, 2013 (Ma’an) – According to an annual assessment released Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders press freedom improved in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2012.

Palestine rose eight places from 179 to 146 on the Paris-based media watchdog’s annual press freedom index. It is however still ranked in the bottom quarter of countries.

“An improvement in relations between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas has had a positive impact on freedom of information and the working environment for journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Israel on the other hand fell 20 places to 112 due to the actions of its military in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The group explained Israel’s new position: “During Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ in November 2012, (the) IDF deliberately targeted journalists and buildings housing media that are affiliated to Hamas or support it. And the arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinian journalists is still commonplace”.

Reporters Without Borders however added that Israeli journalists do enjoy real freedom of expression despite the so-called structural problem of military censorship which Israel imposes on domestic and foreign media.

Reporters Without Borders recorded a range of changes in the “Arab Spring” countries Tunisia, Egypt and Libya as well as where uprisings are still taking place, like Syria and Bahrain.

Finland, the Netherlands and Norway topped the list of countries that most respect media freedom. The three countries also headed the index last year.

The index weights legislation as well as violence against journalists. The index does not take direct account of the type of political system but secretary-general Christophe Deloire commented that “democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted.”

“In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media’s economic crises and conflicts of interest. While their situation is not always comparable, we should pay tribute to all those who resist pressure whether it is aggressively focused or diffuse,” he added.

Source: Ma’an News