Syria ranks second to last in RSF’s press freedom index

The Syrian regime's flag at the entrance of al-Hajar al-Aswad district in the capital, Damascus - May 24, 2018 (AFP)

The Syrian regime's flag at the entrance of al-Hajar al-Aswad district in the capital, Damascus - May 24, 2018 (AFP)


Syria has ranked second to last on the World Press Freedom Index, while Norway topped the ranking. The index was prepared by the independent organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

According to the latest update of the 2024 World Press Freedom Index titled “Journalism Under Political Pressure,” Syria ranked 179 out of 180 countries, with Eritrea at the very bottom.

Reporters Without Borders conducts an annual evaluation of press freedom worldwide based on five contexts: political, legal, economic, socio-cultural, and safety, as stated on its official website.

The evaluation scores are calculated based on two main factors: a quantitative tally of violations against media and journalists related to their work, and a qualitative analysis of each country or region based on responses from press freedom specialists (including journalists, researchers, academics, and human rights advocates) to the organization’s questionnaire available in 24 languages.

On Friday, May 3, coinciding with World Press Freedom Day, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) released a report stating that it had documented the killing of 717 journalists and media workers since March 2011, including 53 who died under torture by the controlling forces in Syria.

The report added that various parties have committed violations against press freedom and freedom of opinion and expression, committing several “grave” abuses, such as extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or enforced disappearances, torture, assaults on facilities, and the enactment of laws that restrict freedom of the press and expression.

The SNHR considered that the Syrian regime bears the greatest responsibility for Syria’s poor rankings globally regarding press freedom and media work, contributing significantly to the tarnished image of Syria and its people, and it is the major perpetrator of violations against journalists and media workers.

The SNHR also mentioned that the recently enacted Law No. 19 by the Syrian regime “violates the basic principles of freedom of opinion and expression and entrenches the executive authority’s control over the media in Syria.”

On April 23, the president of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, issued decree No. 19 which stipulates the establishment of a Ministry of Information to replace the one created by Legislative Decree No. 186 in 1961.

The decree, the text of which was published by the official Syrian news agency (SANA), states in its fourth article that the ministry’s tasks include establishing foundations and controls to regulate the media sector, stimulate fair competition, and oversee its management.


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