Sri Lanka has been ranked 162 in the latest press freedom ranking released by the Paris based Reporters without Borders today. The Asian countries that least respected press freedom were, predictably, North Korea, one of the “infernal trio” at the bottom of the rankings, Burma, which still suffers from prior censorship and imprisonment, and Laos, an unchanging dictatorship where no privately-owned media are permitted, RSF said.
Meanwhile Asia’s few democracies are well placed in the rankings. New Zealand (13th), Australia (16th) and Japan (17th) are all in the top 20. Respect for press freedom and the lack of targeted violence against journalists enable these three countries to be regional leaders.
South Korea (69th) and Taiwan (59th) fell far this year. South Korea plummeted 22 places because of the arrests of several journalists and bloggers and the conservative government’s attempts to control critical media. The new ruling party in Taiwan tried to interfere in state and privately-owned media while violence by certain activists further undermined press freedom.
Two Asian countries were included in the index for the first time: Papua New Guinea (56th), which obtained a very respectable ranking for a developing country, and the Sultanate of Brunei (155th), which came in the bottom third because of the absence of an independent press.