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Free press on an international level
September 17, 2021
Conversely, countries such as Syria, which has an extremely oppressive regime, are very restricted in speech and press. Freedom of the World 2021 rated Syria a 1/100 in terms of political rights and civil liberties, compared to America’s 83/100. Although Syria’s constitution guarantees freedom of the press in name, it is heavily restricted in reality. Journalists who write negatively about the country may be detained, tortured, or even killed. Whatever is written has to be approved by the Interior Ministry, and even private media is influenced heavily by the political regime.
Four journalists were killed on the job in Syria in 2020, and 139 have been killed since 2011. Even college professors are not allowed to speak critically and have been imprisoned and killed in the past, meaning educational freedom is also highly restricted in Syria. The Syrian government indoctrinates its citizens through fear, limited speech, little access to information, and isolation from other nations, hindering their society’s progress and perpetuating an oppressive cycle.
Turkmenistan has a 2/100 rating, where the executive branch of government has absolute power without interference from the legislature. Freedom of the press is highly restricted, and independent journalists are abused, detained and prosecuted. According to Reporters Without Borders, who annually update the World Press Freedom Index based on a nation’s uncensored media and violence against journalists, just 12 countries globally have commendable freedom of the press. Turkmenistan has one of the worst ratings, higher than only Eritrea and North Korea. Journalists from RFE/RL, the only private media in Turkmenistan, are repeatedly the victims of intimidation, harassment, and death threats. Human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have advocated for RFE/RL journalists who have died in Turkmenistan, saying that the journalists’ trials are a “mockery of justice.”