In Brief

The best and worst countries for press freedom

UK slips to 35th in global index after violence against Northern Irish journalists

The UK has slipped down the list of countries ranked by the freedom of their press, partly because of a rise in intimidation and violence against journalists in Northern Ireland.

The annual World Press Freedom Index, compiled by the Reporters Without Borders campaign group, surveys the “state of the media in 180 countries and territories”, The Guardian says. 

In the newly published 2020 edition, the UK falls two places to No.35 in the wake of threats and assassinations aimed at reporters in Northern Ireland.

The murder in April last year of journalist Lyra McKee, who was reporting on unrest in Derry when she was killed, appears to have been a key factor in the decision to move the UK down the list.

The Guardian adds that police inappropriately obtaining warrants to raid the homes of investigative reporters in Northern Ireland also had an impact on the ranking.

The UK now sits below countries such as Costa Rica, Ghana and South Africa in the World Press Freedom Index.

Top spot went to Norway, for the fourth consecutive year, while in last place was North Korea, having taken the dubious honour from last year’s lowest-ranked country, Turkmenistan.

Responding to the UK’s fall, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, said the news “comes as no surprise”, adding: “The tragic death of Lyra McKee at the hands of republican paramilitaries 12 months ago is a reminder of the risks that reporters face in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland continues to be the most dangerous part of the UK to be a journalist, threatening press freedom daily. In the year since Lyra’s death, reporters have continued to receive threats of violence and death on a regular basis and two reporters have had to defend their freedom in court after groundless arrests by the police.”

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Reporters Without Borders’ UK director, Rebecca Vincent, said: “We were shocked by some of the reports we received from journalists in Belfast and Derry, who are clearly among the most at-risk reporters in the UK.

“These issues must be addressed by the UK authorities as a matter of urgent priority to prevent further acts of violence.”

Here are the best and worst countries for press freedom in the world:

Top ten

1. Norway2. Finland3. Denmark4. Sweden5. Netherlands6. Jamaica7. Costa Rica8. Switzerland9. New Zealand10. Portugal

Bottom ten

171. Cuba172. Laos173. Iran174. Syria175. Vietnam176. Djibouti177. China178. Eritrea179. Turkmenistan180. North Korea

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