Freedom House FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Restrictions on Press Freedom Intensifying

Global press freedom declined in 2009, with setbacks registered in almost every region of the world, according to a Freedom House study released today. The study,Freedom of the Press 2010: A Global Survey of Media Independence, reported that press freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year, producing a global landscape in which only one in six people live in countries with a Free press. Among the report’s key findings:“Freedom of expression is fundamental to all other freedoms. Rule of law, fair elections, minority rights, freedom of association, and accountable government all depend on an independent press which can fulfill its watchdog function,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House. “This is why these findings are so utterly disturbing. When the Iranian Revolutionary Guards torture a journalist, or Communist authorities in China imprison a blogger, or criminal elements in Russia assassinate yet another investigative reporter, it sends a clear message that every person fighting for basic rights is vulnerable to a similar fate.”

While a range of restrictive laws and violence against journalists continue to hamper media freedom, additional reasons for the global decline include the unique pressures placed on media in countries in the midst of political conflict, as well as intensified constraints on internet freedom. The globalization of censorship by countries such as China and international bodies such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference poses an additional threat to freedom of expression, as does the increasingly worrisome phenomenon of “libel tourism” centered on the United Kingdom. continue

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