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Freedom of the press worldwide

Freedom of the press worldwide

Freedom of the press worldwide

Across the world, the ‘infodemic’ that has accompanied the pandemic has required efforts to combat disinformation and misinformation campaigns regarding the virus, including campaigns that can elicit fear, incite violence or spark unrest. Against this background, on 3 April 2020, CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, regretted that ‘some governments are using this imperative as a pretext to introduce disproportionate restrictions [on] press freedom … . Particularly in times of crisis, we need to protect our precious liberties and rights’. The 2020 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) underlines that the pandemic is exacerbating already existing threats to media freedom. The 2020 edition shows ‘a clear correlation between suppression of media freedom in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and a country’s ranking in the Index’. In both China (177th) and Iran (down 3 at 173rd), news of the Covid-19 outbreaks was heavily censored. RSF warns that authoritarian governments take advantage of the exceptional circumstances to ‘impose measures that would be impossible in normal times’ (‘shock doctrine’).

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