Freedom House’s annual survey of press freedom found slight gains around the globe, in spite of challenges posed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and governments’ responses to them.
Today is World Press Freedom Day, celebrated every May 3 since first adopted by the United Nations in 1991.
A non-profit promoter of press freedom and civil liberties, Freedom House said that while some democratic states have restricted access to information, press freedom per se has not been affected since Sept. 11.
This year’s survey of the world press was dedicated to the memory of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Of the 186 countries surveyed in 2001, 40% have what Freedom House considers to be a free press. That compares with 38.5% of the 187 countries surveyed in 2000. The 75 free-press countries comprise 22% of the world’s population.
Countries rated “partly free” with some restrictions on the media made up 27% of the survey (28.3% in 2000). These countries represent 40% of global population.
Sixty-one countries (33%) do not have a free press, about the same percentage as the prior year. The “not free” nations contain 38% of world population.
Freedom House cited the following countries for notably improving press freedom: Ghana, Peru, and Vanuatu. Meanwhile, Bangladesh, Haiti, and Mongolia received downgrades in the survey.
The entire survey is available online at www.freedomhouse.org.