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Media Freedom Report Cites Eritrea, North Korea As Most Censoring Nations

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Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan are the world's worst countries in imposing press censorship, a media watchdog said in a global report on press freedom.

In these countries, all of which are ruled by authoritarian regimes, the media "serves as a mouthpiece of the state, and any independent journalism is conducted from exile," the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in the report published Tuesday.

Ranked next in the top 10 are Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Belarus, and Cuba.

CPJ's report on the 10 Most Censored Countries is based on research into the censorship tactics used by authoritarian governments, ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to surveillance of journalists and restrictions on internet and social media access.

These countries flout international freedom of expression norms and guarantees by jailing reporters, using the state media as a mouthpiece for the regime, and forcing independent journalists into exile, according to ICJ.

"The internet was supposed to make censorship obsolete, but that hasn't happened. Many of the world's most censored countries are highly wired, with active online communities. These governments combine old-style brutality with new technology, often purchased from Western companies, to stifle dissent and control the media," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

The report noted that conditions for journalists and press freedom in countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Somalia are also extremely difficult, but not necessarily attributable only to government censorship.

In Eritrea, ruled by President Isaias Afewerki since 1993, the government shut down all independent media in 2001. Eritrea is the worst jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of at least 16 journalists behind bars have been imprisoned since the 2001 crackdown without trial.

In a country where only 1 percent of the population have access to internet, the social media was shut down on May 15 ahead of the country's Independence Day celebrations.

In the Communist regime of Kim Jong Un, the Associated Press and AFP have bureaus, but international correspondents have been denied entry, detained, and expelled. Access to the global internet is restricted to the political elite. Authorities have stepped up the use of radio signal blockers and advanced radio detection equipment to prevent people from sharing information.

In Turkmenistan, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is in power since 2006. His regime suppresses independent voices by detaining journalists and forcing others to flee the country. All media outlets are owned or tightly controlled by the government.

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