In Canada, we take it for granted that journalists and citizens can write or talk about nearly anything they want to voice their opinions on. That’s because Canada is a democratic country that has freedom of the press. But in many countries that do not have a democratic system or press freedom, such as China or Burma, journalists are censored and often killed for expressing their opinion.
Reporters without Borders, a France based media democracy and watchdog organization, compiles an annual report on the media democracy of countries across the world. This year, out of 98 countries, the sub-Saharan country of Eritrea was voted dead last. Eritrea has no privately owned media outlets and is one of the leading countries in the world that jails journalists.
North Korea was also at the very bottom of the list. North Korea was voted low because it also has no privately owned media, and punishes journalists for publishing or uttering anti-government sentiments. The government owned media frequently broadcasts propaganda and censor many important stories that affect North Koreans, including the famine and the poverty crisis in North Korea.
Turkmenistan, Iran and Cuba rounded out the top five most censored countries in the RSF report.
Turkmenistan has been under dictatorship rule for a long time, and recently has been taken over by a new leader. This new government seemed promising, but many journalists still complain of harassment and violence there. In one recent case, a journalist was brutally tortured-ironically- as peace talks between the EU and Turkmenistan took place.
Although Iran has a long history of political dissention, it is also a highly censored republic, due mainly to the repression of material deemed “anti Islamic” by the government. Much Internet material has been censored, making Iran one of the most censored countries for Internet use.
Another country that has a highly censored Internet is Cuba. According to RSF, a mere 2% of Cubans are online. Cuban legislation prevents the expression of anti government sentiments, and those who break this law are sent to jail or detention camps.
To have a more detailed view on the situation of each country, take a look at the entire report published by Reporters Without Borders.