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Georgia Ranked 60th in World Press Freedom Index

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, April 19
Georgia has slightly advanced its position in the World Press Freedom Index 2019, published by an independent non-governmental organization based in Paris, Reporters without Borders (RSF).

With its total 28.98 points, Georgia takes 60th place, which is one position better compared to the last year’s index, where Georgia was ranked the 61st place while it was on 64th in 2017.

“Georgia’s media landscape is pluralist but still very polarized. The reforms of recent years have brought improvements in media ownership transparency and satellite TV pluralism, but owners often still call the shots on editorial content.” the report reads.

It also says that the outcome of the continuing dispute over ownership of the main national opposition TV channel, Rustavi 2, therefore have a big impact.

Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Mukhtarly, who was allegedly abducted from Georgia and taken to Baku in May 2017, is also mentioned in the report. The journalist, who claims of being the victim of the cooperation between Georgian and Azerbaijani authorities, is accused of “illegal border crossing, smuggling, and resistance or application of violence concerning a representative of authority.”

“The investigation into Azerbaijani dissident journalist Afgan Mukhtarly’s abduction in Tbilisi in 2017 has yet to produce any convincing results. Mukhtarly’s mysterious abduction and subsequent reappearance in police custody in Azerbaijan were shocking for Georgians, who have traditionally offered refuge to dissidents from neighboring countries,” the index reads.

The RWB is based on a questionnaire sent to partner organizations of Reporters without Borders (14 freedom of expression groups in five continents) and its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as to journalists, researchers, jurists, and human rights activists.

The survey asks questions about direct attacks on journalists and the media as well as other indirect sources of pressure against the free press.

In general, the 2019 Index reads that “hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear,” adding the number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media.

The report stressed that only 24 percent of the 180 countries and territories are classified as “good” or “fairly good” as opposed to 26 percent last year.

Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Denmark are the five countries with the most press freedom.