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* Dramatic decline in press freedom in Sri Lanka over the last decade: Report
Thu, May 1, 2014, 11:27 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 01, Washington: Press freedom in Sri Lanka has seen a dramatic decline over the last decade leading to a more "constricted space" for independent news, said a report released by a global media watchdog today.

"Freedom of the Press 2014: A Global Survey of Media Independence", the latest edition of an annual report published by Freedom House - an NGO established in 1941 that has been ranking countries worldwide since 1980 ranked Sri Lanka 167 out of 197 countries.

The Freedom of the Press report measures the level of media independence in 197 countries and territories based on a score assigned from 0 - 100, 0 being the most free and 100 being the least free.

The scores is a combined score from three subcategories: the legal environment, the political environment, and the economic environment. Sri Lanka has received a combined score of 76 out of the 0-100 scale.

Sri Lanka's score this year slipped by another 2 points, from 74 in 2013 to 76, marking a dramatic decline of 20 points over the last decade.

Increased harassment of both local and foreign journalists trying to cover protests and sensitive news stories, as well as attacks on printing and distribution channels for private media and blocks on web content, led to a more constricted space for independent news, the report said.

According to the report, as a whole, the global press freedom fell to its lowest level in over a decade in 2013.

The report especially noted that the most significant decline of the past decade was observed in one of the world's largest democracies, the United States, which ranked 30th, due to government attempts to control official information flows, particularly concerning national security-related issues.

Of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2013, a total of 63 (32 percent) were rated Free, 68 (35 percent) were rated Partly Free, and 66 (33 percent) were rated Not Free.

The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and Finland were the top five countries in the list.

The world's eight worst-rated countries, remain, Equatorial Guinea, Cuba, Iran, Belarus, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and North Korea in that order.

In South Asia region India ranked 78, Pakistan 141, Bangladesh 115, and Nepal 118. Sri Lanka ranked the worst in the region.

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