‘Freedom of Press’ is published by the US-based Freedom House, an NGO established in 1941 that has been ranking countries worldwide since 1980 in relation to democracy, human rights and press freedom. In May 2014 it reported that Britain has slipped down the global rankings for freedom of the press to 36th place.
The organisation said press freedom and therefore free speech, had fallen to its lowest level for over a decade. It partly blames regressive steps in countries such as Libya, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as the actions taken against journalists reporting on national security issues in both the US and UK.
Karin Karlekar, the report’s project director, said: “We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments’ efforts to control the message and punish the messenger.” Clearly she could have been talking specifically about Britain in the light of the arrest of David Miranda and the enforced destruction of source material at The Guardian newspaper HQ by government security officials.
Of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2013, 63 were rated free, 68 partly free and 66 not free. Britain dropped from 31st place last year to 36th, ranking it alongside Malta and Slovakia.
“Significant decline took place in Turkey (which fell into the ‘not free’ category) as well as in Greece, Montenegro and the United Kingdom,” Freedom House said.
One year later, the 2015 report states that Britain’s freedom of the press has declined yet further, straddled by now by Uruguay and Slovakia and now just 6 points from being classed as ‘partly free’ alongside Kazakhstan.
The very first sentence from the 2015 reports concludes; “This year’s edition of Freedom of the Press documents a surge in threats to independent journalism, from governments that use legal means to control information” and ends its conclusion with – “The wide and growing range of threats to media freedom around the globe presents a stark challenge to democratic values”.
Central to its findings was – “Censorship is ineffective and often counterproductive as an antidote to extremism, and its limited utility cannot justify the infringement of a fundamental democratic value like freedom of expression.”
At this point, it would be an opportune time to remind the British public, whilst criticising lower ranked countries in the report such as the United States and France, it made no mention of the draconian measures implemented by the British government more recently.
On the 15th October, Gordon Raynor, Chief Reporter at The Telegraph – “Investigative journalism will be “stopped dead in its tracks” and local newspapers may be “driven out of business” when new laws restricting Britain’s free press come into force next month. He continues – Media organisations face “the most substantial threat to press freedom in the modern era” as a result of the “menacing” laws passed in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry.
An independent report into the implications of the Crime and Courts Act, which comes into force on November 3, says that The Telegraph’s landmark investigation into MPs’ expenses would have been all but impossible under the new regime. Campaigners for free speech are demanding the repeal of the “pernicious” new law.
daily alternative | alternative news – Britain Tightens Grip In Suffocation Of Free Speech