Press freedom improves in Latvia

Press freedom last year in Latvia increased slightly over 2002, according to a survey by the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog organization Freedom House. The survey was released April 28 in advance of May 3, World Press Freedom Day.

Latvia received a score of 17, as did its neighbor to the north, Estonia, and the island nations of Barbados, Dominica and Jamaica. Lithuania was just behind with a score of 18.

In last year’s survey, Latvia scored 18. Estonia last year scored 17, while Lithuania scored 18.

Freedom House looked at press freedom in 192 countries, focusing on the degree to which each nation allows the free flow of information. It assigned a numerical value to each country, with those scoring between 0 and 30 deemed “free,” those between 31 and 60 “partly free” and those between 61 and 100 “not free.” Freedom House did not look at press responsibility, but noted that a “governmental effort to rein in the press on the pretext of making the press ‘responsible’ has far worse results, in most cases.”

The greatest degree of press freedom, according to the survey, was in Denmark, Iceland and Sweden, each of which received a score of 8. At the bottom of the list were Cuba, with a score of 96, and North Korea, with a score of 98. Freedom House expressed concern about a decline in democracy and press freedom in a number of nations, including Russia. With a score of 67, Russia is considered “not free,” according to Freedom House. In last year’s survey Russia scored 66.

The United States scored 13, up from 17 in last year’s survey.

Details on conditions in Latvia as observed by Freedom House were not immediately available.

(Corrected 03 MAY 2004)

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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