New York - Eritrea has surpassed North Korea as the world's top press
censor, with Syria and Iran placing third and fourth in a new list
published on Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
New York-based rights group said Eritrea had climbed to the top of the
list by banning all foreign media and controlling every detail of the
local media's coverage through its information ministry.
time [a journalist] had to write a story, they arrange for interview
subjects and tell you specific angles you have to write on," it quoted
an exiled Eritrean journalist as saying on condition of anonymity.
"We usually wrote lots about the president [Issaias Afeworki] so that he's always in the limelight."
and highly authoritarian North Korea slipped to second after topping
the list last year, with the CPJ saying "some tiny cracks have emerged"
such as the opening of an Associated Press bureau in the capital
However, foreign reporters are only rarely allowed in
and details about Pyongyang's nuclear programme and the new power
structure following the death of ruler Kim Jong-Il remain "hidden
beneath severe censorship," it said.
Syria has ratcheted up press
restrictions since the outbreak of a popular revolt against President
Bashar al-Assad a year ago, leaping from ninth on the CPJ's 2006 list to
third in the latest one.
Damascus has heavily restricted media access, particularly to cities that have seen large protests and violence.
barring international media from entering and reporting freely and by
attacking its own citizen journalists, Syria has sought to impose a news
media blackout on a year-long military crackdown," the CPJ said.
has meanwhile "mixed high-technology techniques such as Web blocking
with brute-force tactics such as mass imprisonment of journalists to
control the flow of information and obfuscate details of its own nuclear
Rounding out the list of the top 10 press censors was Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Belarus.
CPJ drew up the list based on 15 benchmarks, including the blocking of
websites, the absence of privately-owned or independent media,
restrictions on journalists' movements and security service monitoring
For this list, the group only considered
countries in which restrictions are imposed by the government and not
cases like Mexico and Somalia where journalists are often forced to
censor themselves because of crime or unrest.