3 May 2014

Africa: World Marks Press Freedom Day

Saturday is World Press Freedom Day, an annual observance established by the United Nations in 1993 to support freedom of expression.

The U.N. says "an open and pluralistic media" must work in a safe environment without fear of reprisal.

The international body says last year 71 journalists were killed, while another 826 were arrested. More than 2,000 journalists were threatened or physically attacked last year.

The 2014 World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information. Reporters Without Borders, the sponsors of the index, said some countries have been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an "overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed."

The group said the trend was a "growing threat worldwide" and was endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies.

Finland tops the World Press Freedom index for the fourth straight year, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway, like last year.

The last three positions are again held by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, three countries where Reporters Without Borders says freedom of information is non-existent.

The United States is number 46 on the list of 180 countries. Haiti is number 47. Cape Verde comes in at number 24 and Britain is 33. Russia is number 148, Cuba is 170 and China is ranked at number 175.

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