Press Freedom Index: The top 10 worst countries

Syria, Rwanda, and Yemen have fallen to the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index, the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said today. The three countries join other single-party dominated governments at the bottom of the annual index, while six democratic Northern European nations tied this year as the best places for media freedom.

5. Burma

"Freedom is not allowed any space in Burma, where a parliamentary election is due to be held next month, and the rare attempts to provide news or information are met with imprisonment and forced labor," according to Reporters Without Borders. The Southeast Asian country is the 5th worst in the world for press freedom.

Zin Linn, deputy chairman of the Burma Media Association, told the Democratic Voice of Burma that Burma’s ranking was unsurprising. “In Burma there is no press freedom at all,” he said, adding that obituaries of political dissidents and their relatives had been refused. “If you want to put one of your family members’ obituaries in the newspaper, even that has to pass the censor."

The Christian Science Monitor reported in 2008: "Extreme government censorship is as much a part of life in today's Burma as rice and pagodas. Everything from TV programs to newspaper ads goes through a rigorous vetting board. But the junta is fighting a losing battle against a population hungry for information, armed with tools ranging from transistor radios to sneaky editors and myriad ways to bypass blocks on Internet sites."

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