Jamaica almost flawless in press freedom despite slipping one place in 2021 IndexWednesday, April 21, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica has been described as “almost flawless” in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) which was just released.
The report lists Jamaica at seventh out of the 180 countries ranked. This is a slight decline from the sixth place which the island enjoyed last year, but keeps Jamaica second in the Americas, behind only Costa Rica which is ranked fifth.
According to the report, Jamaica generally enjoys widespread respect for freedom of information and continues to rank among the safest countries in the world for journalists.
“Physical aggression is rare and it has been over a decade since a serious act of violence was committed against a member of the press,” said the report.
“However, Jamaican officials drew criticism at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when Government restrictions were seen as prohibiting journalists from doing their work at a time when there was a strong need for accurate reporting.
“The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), along with editors and executives from the country's major media houses, called on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to rescind public lockdown orders that prevented TV and radio presenters, reporters, camera operators, technicians and other members of the media from moving around freely.
“Holness had already attracted negative attention in late 2019 for remarks he made suggesting that news reporters did not have to stick to the facts or truth, and that a free press enabled journalists to 'take whatever stance they want'. The PAJ qualified his comments as a 'troubling misrepresentation of the work of the press',” added the report.
For the rest of the Americas, RSF said corruption, impunity, cyber-surveillance and Government violence – violations of freedom of information – take many different forms in this vast region.
According to the report, Mexican, Honduran, Colombian and Brazilian journalists sometimes pay with their lives for investigating drug trafficking or corruption.
“Cuban and Venezuelan journalists are under constant pressure from governments that use all possible means to censor independent media outlets. Journalists in the United States cannot freely cover stories linked to surveillance or espionage,” RSF said.
Norway remains at the top of the press freedom list, with Finland second and Sweden in third place. At the bottom of the list is Eritrea, a northeast African country, with Cuba the worst in the Americas at 171.
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