South Africa has moved up 3 places on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2009, released this week. This places the country at 33rd position, ahead of European countries like Greece, Spain, France and Italy.
South Africa – which celebrated Media Freedom day on Monday – has been rising steadily in the Index since 2006, when the country dropped to 44th position. In 2008 the country was in 36th position, tied with the USA, Spain, Taiwan, Cape Verde and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the eighth annual world press freedom index of 175 countries, compiled from questionnaires completed by hundreds of journalists and media experts around the world. With the release of the report, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard emphasised the importance of worldwide media freedom. “Press freedom must be defended everywhere in the world with the same energy and the same insistence,” he said. Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden were tied in 1st place, with Eritrea at 175th. Press freedom is seen as an important tool to inform, expose corruption and abuse of power in governments and to give a voice to minorities and groups facing neglect or discrimination.