|-||Trinidad and Tobago||2,00|
|21||Bosnia and Herzegovina||3,67|
|-||United States of America (American territory)||4,00|
|-||Israel (Israeli territory)||8,00|
|77||Serbia and Montenegro||20,13|
|104||Central African Republic||32,50|
|108||United States of America (in Iraq)||36,00|
|-||Israel (Occupied Territories)||37,50|
|137||United Arab Emirates||50,25|
|141||Democratic Republic of Congo||51,50|
Reporters Without Borders announces its third annual worldwide index of press freedom. Such freedom is threatened most in East Asia (North Korea, Burma, China, Vietnam and Laos) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Iraq). The greatest press freedom is found in northern Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway), which is a haven of peace for journalists.
Reporters Without Borders announces its third annual worldwide index of press freedom. Such freedom is threatened most in East Asia (with North Korea at the bottom of the entire list at 167th place, followed by Burma 165th, China 162nd, Vietnam 161st and Laos 153rd) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia 159th, Iran 158th, Syria 155th, Iraq 148th).
In these countries, an independent media either does not exist or journalists are persecuted and censored on a daily basis. Freedom of information and the safety of journalists are not guaranteed there. Continuing war has made Iraq the most deadly place on earth for journalists in recent years, with 44 killed there since fighting began in March last year.
But there are plenty of other black spots around the world for press freedom. Cuba (in 166th place) is second only to China as the biggest prison for journalists, with 26 in jail (China has 27). Since spring last year, these 26 independent journalists have languished in prison after being given sentences of between 14 and 27 years.
No privately-owned media exist in Turkmenistan (164th) and Eritrea (163rd), whose people can only read, see or listen to government-controlled media dominated by official propaganda.
The greatest press freedom is found in northern Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway), which is a haven of peace for journalists. Of the top 20 countries, only three (New Zealand 9th, Trinidad and Tobago 11th and Canada 18th) are outside Europe.
Other small and often impoverished democracies appear high on the list, such as El Salvador (28th) and Costa Rica (35th) in Central America, along with Cape Verde (38th) and Namibia (42nd) in Africa and Timor-Leste (57th) in Asia.
Reporters Without Borders compiled the index by asking its partner organisations (14 freedom of expression organisations in five continents), its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists, to answer 52 questions to indicate the state of press freedom in 167 countries (others were not included for lack of information).
How the index was compiled
The index measures the state of press freedom in the world. It reflects the degree of freedom journalists and news organisations enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the state to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.
It is based solely on events between 1 September 2003 and 1 September 2004. It does not look at human rights violations in general, just press freedom violations.
Reporters Without Borders compiled a questionnaire with 52 criteria for assessing the state of press freedom in each country. It includes every kind of violation directly affecting journalists (such as murders, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats) and news media (censorship, confiscation of issues, searches and harassment).
It registers the degree of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for such violations. It also takes account of the legal situation affecting the news media (such as penalties for press offences, the existence of a state monopoly in certain areas and the existence of a regulatory body) and the behaviour of the authorities towards the state-owned news media and the foreign press. It also takes account of the main obstacles to the free flow of information on the Internet.
We have taken account not only of abuses attributable to the state, but also those by armed militias, clandestine organisations or pressure groups that can pose a real threat to press freedom.
The questionnaire was sent to partner organisations of Reporters Without Borders (14 freedom of expression groups in five continents) and its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. A scale devised by the organisation was then used to give a country-score to each questionnaire. The Statistics Institute of the University of Paris provided assistance and advice in processing the data reliably and thoroughly.
The 167 countries ranked are those for which we received completed questionnaires from a number of independent sources. Others were not included because of a lack of credible data. Where countries tied, they are listed in alphabetical order.
The index should in no way be taken as an indication of the quality of the press in the countries concerned.