Wealth and press freedom don’t always go together

21 Oct, '03

As in 2002, the ranking shows that a country’s respect for press freedom is not solely linked to its economic development. The top 50 include countries that are among the poorest in the world, such as Benin (29th position), Timor-Leste (30th) and Madagascar (46th).

Conversely, the 50 countries that respect press freedom least include such rich nations as Bahrain (117th) and Singapore (144th)

Reporters without frontiers

So who’s freeer than Bahrain in the Arab world then and how do they rank? If you followed the link to RSF above you would have probably found out by now, if not then here’s who beats Bahrain in the Arab world:

  • Kuwait – 102
  • Lebanon – 106
  • Algeria – 108
  • Egypt – 110
  • Qatar – 115

This is not a race, people. This is something to be absolutely ashamed of. Bahrain is supposed to be a democracy now and we should be able – as is guaranteed by the constitution (?) – to speak our mind, criticise without fear of persecution all for the benefit of the country and its people. So why are we STILL ranked so lowly? Why is the press law still being debated in a stick and carrot fashion? Why do we have such an ineffective, placatory, ass-kissing press rather than a press that tells it as it is? Do they still fear persecution, torture, and expulsion as was the case just a few years ago?

I commented in another article that one site was completely blocked. Maybe it was being blocked because of its coverage of a discrimination seminar that has shaken the “powers that be” in the country over the last couple of days, but it might also have been due to technical failure. In any case I am glad to see that the links provided in the mentioned article actual do work (they did a few minutes before posting this comment.)

As Bahrainies, we should not just sit and wait for things to be decided for us, we should really stand by the reforming press and get this totally incapable parliament to get the press laws amended immediately.

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