After four years of tumbling rankings, conditions have finally improved for Qatar’s journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders’ newly released 2011 annual press freedom index.
At 114th, Qatar climbed seven slots from its ranking as 121st in 2010. But it is still far from the 74th place it held in 2008. It also continues to trail Kuwait, which is 78th, and the UAE, which fell from 87 to 112th.
The top spot went to Finland, and Eritrea rounded out the bottom at 142nd. Most Arab countries fell in the rankings due to government crackdowns over popular revolutions.
The Peninsula reports:
Jan Keulen, (director of the Doha Center for Media Freedom,) said Qatar’s relative low ranking was due, among other things, to the absence of an up-to-date media law.
“Though there are no imprisoned journalists and no prior censorship here, self-censorship (in the local media) is widespread,” Keulen told this newspaper.
“The media sector is still awaiting a media legislation which guarantees press freedom and which is up to international standards and up to the new technological developments.”
Notably, Qatar’s rankings fell most dramatically following the hasty departure of DCMF’s former director and founder of Reporters Without Borders, Robert Menard, in 2009.
But Qatar also doesn’t fare so well in other press freedom reports. In its most recent report, Freedom House, for example, ranked the country’s media as “not free.”