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RSF Report: Countries' Press Freedom Index reveals new era of polarization

RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire speaks on World Press Index 2022 (Photo by RSF)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a report on May 3, 2022, that demonstrates a twofold increase in polarization, exacerbated by information anarchy. 

According to the RSF World Press Freedom Index 2022, for 180 nations assessed, a new polarization has been revealed. 

It says that polarization has risen twofold because of information chaos, which has led to more divisions between countries and between countries at the international level.

Based on the assessment, RSF noted that journalism is "completely or partially blocked" in 132 countries worldwide, which is bad during the coronavirus pandemic.

RSF looked at five things when they assessed the state of journalism: the political context, the legal framework, the economic context, the sociocultural context, and security.

RSF highlighted several aspects of Asian countries' press freedom, including how some regimes have utilized the pandemic for crushing dissent and propagating misinformation.

In Indonesia, RSF said that the global press freedom index had dropped from 113 to 117, even though Indonesia was the first to set up hundreds of independent media outlets in Southeast Asia.

According to the report, the country's military is very wary of letting the media report on its use of force to stop separatist uprisings in the two provinces that make up Papua, which is Indonesia's part of the island of New Guinea.

The RSF also noted that Indonesia is under growing pressure from radical Islamic movements. 

The report said that a stringent version of Sharia is in force in Aceh, an autonomous western province, where morality police dictate what newspapers can and cannot publish. 

The Philippines' Press Freedom Index has slid to 147th place from 138th last year.

According to RSF's national profile assessment, there have been a lot of "verbal attacks" and "judicial harassment" against any media that has been critical of the government in the Philippines.

In terms of safety for journalists, the RSF says that "the Philippines is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists." 

"This was most clearly seen in 2009 when 32 journalists were killed in the southern province of Maguindanao," the report said. 

A press freedom crisis is taking place in India, the world's most democratic country, because of violence against journalists, politically partisan media, and many people owning a lot of media outlets. As a result, the country fell from 142 to 150 on the previous year's list.

According to the report, journalists in India who are unduly critical of the government experienced widespread harassment and attack campaigns from current government administration devotees, dubbed "bhakts" (loyalists).

RSF said that journalists in India had been attacked for their work.
"With an average of three or four journalists killed in connection with their work every year, India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media, " the report said.

Furthermore, RFS reported that "Journalists are exposed to physical violence, including police violence, ambushes by political activists, and deadly reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt local officials."

On the other hand, the press freedom index in Myanmar and China is classified as "very bad" a record with 28 countries in this year’s Index.

In Myanmar (176th), RSF said press freedom has suffered since the military junta government formed a coup d’état on February 1, 2021. 
On top of that, RSF said that being a journalist is dangerous, like in China. 

According to the report, "What with the risks of being jailed, tortured or murdered, journalism is an extremely dangerous profession in Myanmar, which has become one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists."

The junta killed three journalists in December 2021 and January 2022. Two of them died due to abusive treatment while in custody,” said the RSF statement. 

RSF said that the most populous country in the World, China (177th), is the world's largest prison for journalists. 

Its regime conducts a campaign of repression against journalism and the right to information worldwide.

RSF stated that China (177th) is "the world's unchallenged expert in censorship." It took advantage of the pandemic to "further bolster its control over online information," which explains why it finished last.

RSF said China used surveillance, compulsion, intimidation, and harassment to stop independent journalists from reporting on "sensitive" things.

The report said that China is the world’s largest captor of journalists, with more than 120 currently detained. 

On the other hand, RSF also said that Timor Leste, the youngest country in Asia, came in 17th, better than South Korea (43rd) and Japan (71st).

The press freedom index in other countries in Asia looks like this: Nepal is 76th, Malaysia is 113th, Thailand is 115th, Cambodia is 142nd, Sri Lanka is 146th, Hong Kong is 148th, Pakistan is 157th, Laos is 161, Bangladesh is 162, and Vietnam is 174th.

Based in Paris, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide and is guided by democratic ideals. They describe themselves as an organization that is neither a trade union nor a representative of media companies. 

Founded in 1985 in Montpellier by four journalists, RSF is at the forefront of the defense and promotion of freedom of information. It has consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the International Organization of Francophonie (OIF). - Kasmir Nema


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.