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Reporters Without Borders ‘2016 World Press Freedom Index’: Tunisia 96th Worldwide, Second in Low Bar Middle East

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Tunisia moved up 30 spots in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF-Reporters sans frontières) ‘2016 World Index’ from 126th to 96th out of 180 countries between 2015 and 2016, in a year which saw a “deep and disturbing decline” globally according to RSF.


Finland topped the index followed by the Netherlands and fellow Scandinavians Norway and Denmark while Eritrea fell below North Korea, Turkmenistan and Syria in the tyrannical race to the bottom.
Regarding Tunisia, RSF said ‘Tunisian continue to be subjected to harassment of many kinds.’ such as ‘defamation charges [that] are often brought against journalists who cause trouble, although the charges are rarely followed by trials.’ adding ‘self-censorship continues to be widespread’


RSF singled out online magazine and 2015 RSF Press Freedom Prize nominee ‘Inkyfada’ for pushing against self-censorship through its investigative journalism.


  • In the last year RSF has repeatedly called attention to the case of Tunisian journalists Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Geutari who went missing near Ajdabiya, Libya in September of 2014 while covering Libya’s descent into anarchy for the First TV investigative journalism show ‘Dossiyates’.
  • More recently RSF denounced the hacking of Inkyfada’s website which was pirated earlier this month by unknown culprits as Inkyfada was preparing to release its initial findings on Tunisians whose names appeared in the Panama Papers leak.
  • RSF also criticized a speech given by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on January 22 in which Essebsi denounce ‘certain journalists and media for aggravating unrest during the nationwide employment protests which followed the death of Ridha Yahyaoui.


Concerning press freedom in the Middle East and RSF said “the situation has not improved everywhere and the region continues to be one of the most dangerous for journalists.”


To derive its country scores RSF relied on a questionnaire ‘targeted at the media professionals, lawyers and sociologists who are asked to complete it’ and focused on six factors: pluralism of opinions represented in the media, media independence, the environment in which information providers operate, the laws governing media activity, transparency of news institutions and the quality of the news gathering infrastructure.


Countries are given scores ranging from 0 to 100, with 0 being the best possible score and 100 the worst based on these indices and RSF factors in incidences of abuse or violence against the media with the six qualitative measures for a final weighted score.


1 Finland 8.59
2 Netherlands 8.76
3 Norway 8.79
4 Denmark 8.89
5 New Zealand 10.01

48 Mauritania 24.03

96 Tunisia 31.60
98 Lebanon 31.95
101 Israel 32.58
103 Kuwait 32.59
117 Qatar 35.97
119 United Arab Emirates 36.73
125 Oman 40.43
129 Algeria 41.69
131 Morocco 42.64
132 Palestine 42.93
135 Jordan 44.49
158 Iraq 54.35
159 Egypt 54.45
162 Bahrain 54.86
164 Libya 57.89
165 Saudi Arabia 59.72
169 Iran 66.52
170 Yemen 67.07

177 Syria 81.35
178 Turkmenistan 83.44
179 North Korea 83.76
180 Eritrea 83.92


Image Credit: Carlos Latuff ‘Mubarak attack against press’ Wikimedia commons