Georgia Occupied 121st Place in the World Rating on Free Press
On the previous day of may 3, the World Day of the Freedom of Press, famous human rights organization “Freedom House” published its traditional report on the freedom of the press throughout the world, “Freedom of the Press 2007: Global Survey of the Independence of the Media”.
Georgia occupied 121st place in the rating and is among those countries where media is partly independent. Georgia is 57 points ahead of Kamboja and is backward of Kulombia.
Besides that Georgia and the Ukraine are the leaders among CIS countries in the field of independent media. According to the report Georgia occupies the 18th place among the countries of Central Europe and post soviet countries. It has outrun Armenia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Russia (which has occupied 165th place in the world rating) Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The most independent press is in Estonia among those countries and in the world rating it occupied 16th place.
The top ten of the world rating was made up of the following countries: Finland (9 points), Iceland (9), Belgium (11), Denmark (11), Norway (11), Sweden (11), Luxemburg (12), Switzerland (12), Andorra (13), and the Kingdom of Nederland (13). The total number of the countries where the press is completely independent is 74.
In parallel to it, international organization “Reporters Without Borders” published the world rating of the freedom of press in 2006. According to that report Georgia had improved its position in ten steps in comparison to 2005.
According to that rating Georgia occupied 89th place in 2006, while in 2005 it was only at the 99th place.
As Freedom House pointed out in its final report, although the Georgian Constitution and Law on the Freedom of Word and Expression guarantee the freedom of the press, Georgian government continued to suppress the media until 2006. Although the restrictions did not have direct character, there used to be information about the physical assault and threatening of journalists by certain officials. The government could not guarantee the freedom of the press and information envisaged under the law. The report also mentioned the draft law on the Ethic Code for Broadcasters and states that if the initial variant of the draft law had been adopted, the journalists’ rights would have been seriously violated.
The report of the Freedom House also discusses the critical materials after which journalists were suppressed by media holders who are close to the authority. Regarding the situation, journalists very often use self-censure. The government is particularly intolerant to critical media sources. Freedom House introduced the example of TV Company Rustavi 2. It used to criticize the authority before the Rose Revolution but afterwards it became less critical. Besides that the company canceled political programs. The report also mentions the fact when journalists left Rustavi 2 in protest since the administration of the company was changed according to the governmental order in 2006.
Freedom House underlines the fact that economical independence of the Georgian media faces problems because of its low budget. Thus it is not well protected from economical and political influence. It is also mentioned that the public officials prevented opposition editions to receive advertisements.
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