Excerpts of a 2019 World Press Freedom Index by RSF published by The Independent on Saturday showed that the UK was ranked 33rdbehind Jamaica, Surinam, Ghana, Namibia, South Africa, Latvia and Lichtenstein in a global list of 180 countries based on their way of treating journalists and the press.
RSF’s UK director Rebecca Vincent said government authorities normally used national security concerns as a pretext to violate press freedom.
“Too often steps taken in the name of national security trample press freedom,” said Vincent, adding that Britain still remained one of the “worst-performing countries in western Europe” in allowing dissident voices in the media.
The revelations come as UK authorities have always boasted of their records in tolerating press freedom. However, recurrent reports have shown that the government has been tough on those criticizing its close military cooperation with despotic regimes around the world, especially one that has enabled the Saudi Arabian government to commit gross human rights violations in a four-year-old war in Yemen.
RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire warned that practices like those by the UK government to silence the media represented a real threat to democracy.
“Democracy is in great danger. Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency of all people,” Deloire said, adding, “If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger.”