The 11 Least Free Presses In The World

chinaA university student is taken away by plainclothes policemen after giving an interview about censorship to foreign media.

Photo: AP

The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”The 2013 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks each country by how free journalists, news organisations and netizens were to report news from December 2011 and the end of November 2012. 

It’s no surprise that highly corrupt countries are at the bottom while the least corrupt countries are near the top. The ones that stand out are the big players who have come to rely on the systematic suppression of the right to information.

Yemen hasn't made it any easier for the press despite a new president.

Yemen ranks 169 out of 179 countries with a score of 69 out of 100.

Yemeni journalists -- who have plenty to write about regarding the U.S. drone war in the country -- are exposed to physical attacks, prosecution and even jail sentences.

A weak bill on privately-owned broadcasts and electronic media was submitted to parliament but has been abandoned, meaning that U.S.-backed president Abd Rab Mansour Hadi has done nothing to help the press since taking office in February 2012.

Sudan's military regime made it tough on journos for decades.

Sudan ranks 170 out of 179 countries with a score of 70 out of 100.

Ever since a military coup in 1989, the totalitarian regime of Omar al-Bashir has closed newspapers and abused journalists -- some have been tear-gassed, imprisoned, and sexually assaulted. The country's secret police even kidnapped and tortured one female journalist.

North and South Sudan, which were one country just a year and a half ago, continue to struggle with economic, political, and social upheaval as their leaders try to reach a peace agreement.

Cuba even throws reporters for the official paper in jail.

Cuba ranks 171 out of 179 countries with a score of 71 out of 100.

Cuba recently allowed its citizens to leave the country without applying for exit visas, but the country is still known for incredibly restrictive press laws and persecution of journalists. Even reporters working for the Communist Party's official newspaper, Granma, have been charged with spying and thrown in jail, according to Reporters Without Borders.

20-seven journalists and dissidents were arrested in Cuba last November in what many called a 'wave of repression.'

Vietnam has begun jailing bloggers.

Vietnam ranks 172 out of 179 countries with a score of 71 out of 100.

Vietnam, a single-party Communist state, has seen rapid economic growth in recent years but doesn't allow independent newspapers. Bloggers are a growing problem for the Communist Party, which threw 12 Internet journalists behind bars last year -- second only to China in terms of how many bloggers have been imprisoned, RWB reported.

Last month, Vietnamese courts sentenced five bloggers to up to 13 years in prison, and on February 1, state officials arrested independent blogger Le Anh Hung and committed him to a psychiatric institution against his will, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

China is a superpower of press control.

China ranks 173 out of 179 countries with a score of 73 out of 100.

China is well-known for their ability to manipulate the information in its country and shows no sign of letting up. Journalists and netizens are still routinely jailed while commercial news outlets and foreign media organisations are still censored regularly.

Censorship sparked protests in January when reporters at one of China's most respected and liberal papers accused the provincial propaganda chief of transforming a lengthy newspaper New Year editorial calling for political reform into a gushing homage to China's Communist Party.

Iran controls everything that the media produce.

Iran ranks 174 out of 179 countries with a score of 73 out of 100.

The Islamic Republic is 'one of the world's five biggest prisons for news and information providers,' according tot he report.

The country's print and broadcast media and news websites are all controlled by
the Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards, and authorities have harassed and imprisoned of Iranian journalists who work for foreign news media or abroad.

Somalia has become a deathtrap for reporters.

Somalia ranks 175 out of 179 countries with a score of 73 out of 100.

Somalia's experienced its deadliest year in history for the country's media in 2012 as 18 journalists were killed, caught up in bomb attacks or the direct targets of murder.

The Somali government says it plans to establish the legal framework for a free press and properly regulated telecommunications sector, but there continue to be situations such as the Somali journalist who has been imprisoned since January 10 for interviewing a woman who claimed she was raped by government soldiers.

Syria's civil war is also an information war.

Syria ranks 176 out of 179 countries with a score of 78 out of 100.

Syria has seen the most attacks on freedom of information in the past year as journalists are targeted by both the regime and the opposition in an information war that parallels the country's 23-month civil war.

At least 98 professional or citizen journalists who have died during the Syrian civil war, and anyone inside the country is under threat of kidnapping or death.


Turkmenistan's leader literally owns the media.

Turkmenistan ranks 173 out of 179 countries with a score of 79 out of 100.

Until January 25 of this year, Turkmenistan President and Prime Minister Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov owned the country's 39 publications, five radio stations, seven national TV stations and one press agency.

Anna Soltan, a Turkmen journalist working with NewEurasia.net, recently told Al Jazeera that most local journalists who report for foreign media have left the country or 'given up on journalism.'

North Korea is truly the Hermit Kingdom when it comes to news.

North Korea ranks 178 out of 179 countries with a score of 83 out of 100.

The country's constitution protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but only if the views are supportive of the government and the ruling party.

The Hermit Kingdom is so sheltered that in November it accidentally took an Onion article as real news, trumpeting ruler Kim Jong Un being chosen as 'sexiest man alive.'

Eritrea's information ministry is so bad the military tried to take it over.

Eritrea ranks 179 out of 179 countries with a score of 84 out of 100.

This country on Africa's east coast 'continues to be a vast open prison for its people and lets journalists die in detention,' according to the report.

Last month around 200 soldiers with two tanks stormed the information ministry to demand the release of political prisoners and the implementation of the constitution.

There is no current independent media in Eritrea, and Al Jazeera was blocked in the country after it covered demonstrations held by exiled Eritreans in solidarity of the mutinous soldiers.

There's a simple explanation for some of these countries...

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