Freedom House, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. published its yearly report on Wednesday, and found that the freedom of the press has been getting more restricted everywhere in the world, including Europe, figyelo.hu writes.
According to the report, Turkey’s and Middle Eastern countries’ press freedom was the most restricted: journalists in these countries are forced to take sides, and the governments and several activist groups apply the “you’re either with us or without us” mentality. Those who do not obey the rules are often attacked and abused.
Jennifer Dunham, leader of the research group said that many European countries have introduced stricter measures in the past year, and journalists have to face terrorist threats, constant monitoring, and tighter national security laws. Dunham named Poland and Serbia as the two European countries where politicians are aiming to have a greater influence on the country’s media.
Dunham emphasized that Chinese and Syrian journalists are in an extremely dangerous position; during the research she encountered highly censored articles, and noted that several journalists were imprisoned, and were forced to make false confessions on television. However, many journalists continue their work, such as those in Syria, or the investigative journalists in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia.
According to the organization, only 13% of the world’s population lives in a country where the press is not restricted at all, 41% lives in a partly restricted country, and 46% lives in a country with no press freedom at all.
The freedom of the press suffered the most restrictions in Bangladesh, Turkey, France, Serbia, Yemen, Egypt, Macedonia, and Zimbabwe, and Poland and Hungary were also mentioned. The report says that the new right-wing government in Poland adopted laws which allow the government to fire the state media’s management and hire new ones. The acts reminded the researchers to the measures Viktor Orbán has recently taken, and which resulted in an almost absolute control over the state media, as it was visible during the 2015 refugee crisis.
Hungary was listed in the “Partly Free” category, but France, Spain, and the United Kingdom were equally criticized. All three countries tightened their media laws in 2015 (as an excuse for protecting public order); France and Spain have already passed the restrictions, but they are still being examined in the United Kingdom.
Copy editor: bm