The 2017 World Press Freedom Index prepared annually by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) saw Turkey decline by four points compared to last year due to an “unprecedented purge” under the state of emergency declared after the July 2016 coup attempt.
In this year’s index published on April 26, Turkey ranked 155th among 180 countries, just four ranks ahead of Brunei, Kazakhstan, Iraq and Rwanda, while lagging behind countries such as Russia, Belarus, Singapore and South Sudan.
The 2017 index ranking marked the country’s 56 point-decrease over the past 12 years.
“Dozens of journalists have been imprisoned without trial, turning Turkey into the world’s biggest prison for media personnel. Those still free are exposed to other forms of arbitrary treatment including waves of trials, withdrawal of press cards, cancellation of passports, and seizure of assets. Censorship of online social networks has also reached unprecedented levels,” RSF stated.
Meanwhile, the top five countries ranked as being in a “good situation” section were Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands, respectively. China, Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea marked the last five countries ranked as being in a “very serious situation.”
Globally, RSF pointed to the fact that attacks on the media have become commonplace while strongmen leaders were on the rise in its index.
“The 2017 World Press Freedom Index, published today by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), shows that violations of the freedom to inform are less and less the prerogative of authoritarian regimes and dictatorships. Once taken for granted, media freedom is proving to be increasingly fragile in democracies as well. In sickening statements, draconian laws, conflicts of interest, and even the use of physical violence, democratic governments are trampling on a freedom that should, in principle, be one of their leading performance indicators,” it said.
“The rate at which democracies are approaching the tipping point is alarming for all those who understand that, if media freedom is not secure, then none of the other freedoms can be guaranteed,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.