Eritrea and North Korea Are World’s Most Censored Countries, Advocacy Group Says
Rick Gladstone, New York Times
21 April 2015
The impoverished African nation of Eritrea has the lowest rate of cellphone ownership in the world, less than 1 percent of its people can go online, and its journalists are so terrified of offending the president that even reporters for the state-run news media live in perpetual fear of arrest.
In North Korea, the government prohibits almost all Internet access and is so obsessive about purging inconvenient facts from public view that it has airbrushed the leader’s uncle, executed for treason in late 2013, from all historical photo archives.
The severity of control over freedom of expression and thought in Eritrea and North Korea puts them at the top of a list of the world’s 10 most censored countries, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a press advocacy group in New York, which released its list Tuesday.
“The tactics used by Eritrea and North Korea are mirrored to varying degrees in other heavily censored countries,” the group said in its announcement of the list. “To keep their grip on power, repressive regimes use a combination of media monopoly, harassment, spying, threats of journalist imprisonment and restriction of journalists’ entry into or movements within their countries.”
Seven countries on the most-censored list — Azerbaijan, China, Eritrea,Ethiopia, Iran, Myanmar and Vietnam — also rank among the world’s leading jailers of journalists, according to a separate annual prison census compiled by the advocacy group. Imprisoned journalists are most often charged with crimes against the state, the group said.
China, which ranks No. 8 on the most-censored list, is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with 44 imprisoned, roughly two-thirds of whom are held on anti-state charges, according to the advocacy group.
Saudi Arabia, ranked No. 3 on the most-censored list, is so intent on silencing dissent that it has assurances from the five smaller Arab partners in the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council — Bahrain,Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates — that “criticism of leadership in any member state is dealt with severely,” the group said.
Cuba, No. 10 on the list, has “the most restricted climate for press freedom in the Americas,” the group said, despite some improvements in recent years.
Although the Internet is available in Cuba, service providers are ordered to block objectionable content, and independent journalists must go to foreign embassies or hotels to get unfiltered connections.
The most-censored list is part of the press advocacy group’s annual publication “Attacks on the Press,” which is to be released on Monday.
Featured Image: An Eritrean man wheels his bicycle past the office of Eritrea’s Internet service provider in Asmara, Oct. 11, 2001. Copyright: Andrew England/Associate Press
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