India ranks at 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
Thirty seven heads of the states from across the world have made it to the 2021 list of ‘Predators of Press Freedom’ published by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF). These leaders have been criticised for granting the "lowest freedom to the media" under their jurisdiction.
India ranks at 142nd out of 180 countries in the RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
Nearly half (17) of the names in the RSF’s list are making their first appearance in 2021, which RSF published five years after the last one in 2016, says a statement.
The average age of the listed names is 66 years. More than a third (13) of those in the RSF’s list are from the Asia-Pacific region. For the first time, the list includes two women and a European strongman.
The first two women in RSF’s list are Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong special administrative region, and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The new entrants include Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s 35-year-old crown prince, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and European entrant Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán.
The lists also names Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksha, Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, Myanmar’s military head Min Aung Hlaing, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Nineteen of these 'predators' rule countries that are coloured red on the RSF’s press freedom map, meaning their situation is classified as “bad” for journalism, says RSF. And 16 rule countries coloured black, meaning the situation is “very bad.”
The RSF statement said, "All are heads of state or government who trample on press freedom by creating a censorship apparatus, jailing journalists arbitrarily or inciting violence against them, when they don’t have blood on their hands because they have directly or indirectly pushed for journalists to be murdered."
Some of these 'predators of press freedom' have been operating for more than two decades, RSF said.
RSF mentioned that Bashar al-Assad (President of Syria), Ali Khamenei (Supreme Leader of Iran), Vladimir Putin (President of Russia), Alexander Lukashenko (President of Belarus), Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (President of Equatorial Guinea), Isaias Afwerki (President of Eritrea) and Paul Kagame (President of Rwanda) are among those who have retained their places since their first list was published in 2001.
Based in Paris, RSF claims to be an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
RSF’s foreign bureaus in 10 cities, including Brussels, Washington, Berlin, Tunis, Rio de Janeiro, and Stockholm, and its network of correspondents in 130 countries give the organisation the ability to mobilise support, challenge governments and wield influence both on the ground and in the ministries and precincts where media and internet standards and legislation are drafted.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)