Press watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released a list of 37 heads of states who massively cracked down on press freedom. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are among the “predators of press freedom”, said RSF.
Two women, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Hong Kong’s administrative chief Carrie Lam, have also been added to the list. This is the first time that women leaders have found a place on the press freedom predators’ list.
The list was released on Monday. The list has come out after a gap of five years; the RSF released the last list in 2016.
The global press body said that 17 of the 37 leaders have been added for the first time on the list. It has accused these leaders of “creating a censorship apparatus, jailing journalists arbitrarily or inciting violence against them”.
At least 19 countries have been show in the red colour by the RSF, which it says shows the bad situation for journalism. Sixteen countries have been coded black, which RSF says the situation is “very bad”.
The average of the predators included in the list is 66 and one-third of them are from the Asia-Pacific region.
Some of the other inclusions in the list are Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Myanmar’s Min Aung Hlaing, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte.
In the case of Imran Khan, the RSF said, “In the shadows, behind candidate Khan, the military reasserted the deep state,” adding that cases of brazen censorship are legion since he became prime minister.
“Newspaper distribution has been interrupted, media outlets have been threatened with the withdrawal of advertising and TV channel signals have been jammed,” the RS further said.
Talking about Bin Salman, the report said, “His repressive methods include spying and threats that have sometimes led to abduction, torture and other unthinkable acts. Jamal Khashoggi’s horrific murder exposed a predatory method that is simply barbaric.”
Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist who visited the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul to procure documents to marry and was brutally slain inside it in 2018.
About the women on the list, the RSF said, “Lam’s predatory exploits include the adoption of a digital security law in 2018 that has led to more than 70 journalists and bloggers being prosecuted.”
The watchdog’s chief urged world governments to disavow the practices used by the leaders it singled out and to recognize the positive contributions made by an independent press.