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The Georgian media is 'Partly Free', but only just

By Liana Bezhanishvili
Monday, May 3
Georgia’s ranking in an annual survey of global press freedom released by Freedom House on April 27 remains “Partly Free.”

Each of the 196 countries and territories examined in the survey are assigned a rating between 0 and 100, with countries scoring from 0 to 30 being given status of having a “Free” media; from 31 to 60 a “Partly Free” media and 61 to 100 “Not Free”. The survey, which covers 2009, ranks Georgia alongside Honduras, Nepal and Paraguay in 126th place with rating of 59. Accordingly these countries are just in the "Partly Free” category. Georgia’s ranking in the previous Freedom House survey, covering 2008, was 128th. It had a rating of 60.

2 of the 12 former non-Baltic former Soviet states – Georgia and Ukraine – are ranked as “Partly Free”, while others have been assigned to the “Not Free” category. The best ratings are enjoyed by Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, who have ratings of 10. Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra, Switzerland and Liechtenstein make up the ten best rated countries. Among post-Soviet countries Estonia has the best rating, being together with Germany in 19th place with 17 points. The Czech Republic is equal 24th with the USA and also in the "Free" category. However Armenia is 146th with a rating of 66, Azerbaijan is 172nd with a rating of 78 and both countries are given the status "Not Free". Russia is in 175th place with Gambia with a rating of 81 and also "Not Free". North Korea takes last place in the list.

On the whole the media freedom has declined in Africa, Latin America and in the Middle East over the past year. Asia and the Pacific are the only areas where media freedom has improved. The survey underlines that in China, Russia, Venezuela and other countries the Government systematically interferes in the media. The worst countries in this respect are Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

“Freedom of expression is fundamental to all other freedoms. Rule of law, fair elections, minority rights, freedom of association and accountable government all depend on an independent press which can fulfill its watchdog function,” said Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House. “This is why these findings are so utterly disturbing. When the Iranian Revolutionary Guards torture a journalist, or Communist authorities in China imprison a blogger, or criminal elements in Russia assassinate yet another investigative reporter, it sends a clear message that every person fighting for basic rights is vulnerable to a similar fate.”