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Belgium slips in world press freedom index

21:31 04/05/2023

Belgium has dropped from 23rd to 31st place in the World Press Freedom Index published annually by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“Journalists enjoy a relatively high degree of trust, yet they are subject to violence by police and protesters during demonstrations, as well as online threats directed, above all, at women,” RSF noted in its summary for Belgium.

The organisation did note that, in Belgium, “the media sector is apparently free from political pressure and is protected by an effective legal framework, some provisions of which remain controversial.”

The biggest falls in the 2023 ranking compared to last year were in Peru (110th, down 33 places), Senegal (104th, down 31 places), Haiti (99th, down 29) and Tunisia (121st, down 27).

Norway remains the highest-ranked country and North Korea is in last place.

According to the 2023 edition of the benchmark ranking, conditions for practising journalism are poor in seven out of 10 countries. The bottom three countries are in Asia: Vietnam is 178th and China is second to last.

There are 52 out of 180 countries where the situation is described as ‘good’ or ‘fairly good’ (four more than in 2022), a figure that has not been so high since 2016.

The 21st edition of the ranking highlights the effects of misinformation. In twothirds of the 180 countries evaluated, “the involvement of political actors in massive disinformation or propaganda campaigns” is cited as an issue.

“The difference is being blurred between true and false, real and artificial, facts and artifices, jeopardising the right to information,” RSF said in a statement.

“The unprecedented ability to tamper with content is being used to undermine those who embody quality journalism and weaken journalism itself.”

The world ranking is based on both a quantitative and qualitative survey of abuses committed against journalists.

Written by Helen Lyons