Turkey regresses in RSF’s latest press freedom index
ISTANBULThe 2016 World Press Freedom Index prepared by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) saw Turkey decline by over six points compared to last year due to “systematic censoring” of the media in addition to a sharp rise in charges of “insulting the president” and loosely defined “terrorism.”
This year, Turkey lagged behind Russia, Cambodia and Qatar in the index’s “bad” section, while performing slightly better than Iraq and Egypt.
In its benchmark index that measures the attacks on journalistic freedom and independence by respective governments, Reporters Without Borders presented the struggle in Turkey as “Erdoğan against the media.”
“President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has embarked on an offensive against Turkey’s media. Journalists are harassed, many have been accused of ‘insulting the president’ and the Internet is systematically censored,” it said, adding that regional geopolitics, including the war in Syria and the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has also had a negative impact on freedoms.
Turkey was cited, alongside Egypt, as one of the countries where the “authoritarian tendencies of governments” were on the rise.
The decline in respect for media freedom was nonetheless portrayed as a global phenomenon, rather than a regional one, as the indicator deteriorated some 3.7 percent worldwide compared to last year. Increasingly authoritarian governments, tight government control over state-owned media outlets, and security crises across the world are cited as leading causes of this decline.
The results show that Europe still has the world’s freest media, followed - albeit distantly – by Africa, which slightly outperformed the Americas for the first time. The Middle East and North Africa was once again the least free continent, following Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Asia.