For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Sri Lanka dropped down five places last year from 2010 to rank among the 20 worst countries in a leading survey of press freedom.
The annual World Press Freedom Index for 2011 compiled by Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has ranked Sri Lanka 163 out of 178 countries ranked. Sri Lanka was ranked 158 in 2010.
The index widely accepted around the world indicates the increasing suppression on media freedom in the country, media organizations point out.
In an accompanying report, the RSF said while violence and impunity persisted in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Philippines, there was more repression in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China.
“In Sri Lanka (163rd), the stranglehold of the Rajapakse clan forced the last few opposition journalists to flee the country. Any that stayed behind were regularly subjected to harassment and threats. Attacks were less common but impunity and official censorship of independent news sites put an end to pluralism and contributed more than ever to self-censorship by almost all media outlets,” the RSF statement said.
Elsewhere, in the South Asian region Pakistan at 151st position was the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year in a row in 2011 with 10 deaths.
Nepal at 106th has shown modest improvement from the previous year due to a decline in attacks by Maoist groups and greater efficiency on the part of the justice system, the RSF said.
Ranking Bangladesh at 129th position, the RSF reported that opposition groups and the ruling Awami League took turns to attack and obstruct the press.
The survey ranked India at 131st position citing that journalists were exposed to violence stemming from the persistent conflicts in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir as well as to the threats from mafia groups.
The United States dropped 27 places in the rank to the 47th due to the many arrests of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street protests.