Netherlands climbs 22 spots in press freedom ranking

The Netherlands has risen 22 places in the press freedom index by journalist organization Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF). That puts our country back in sixth place after falling 22 positions last year due to aggression against journalists and the murder of crime reporter Peter R. de Vries.

The Netherlands now scores better in the field of security, according to RSF. According to the organization, this is partly due to the prosecution of suspects in the De Vries case, a decrease in violence against journalists in 2022 after “the very violent coronavirus year 2021,” and the help journalists receive through PersVeilig, an initiative to protect journalism.

RSF also pointed out that the improved situation in the Netherlands must be put in perspective because the safety score is still “very low.” The Netherlands’ assessment shows that journalists in the country still receive serious threats, especially women who report on controversial topics.

The drop in the 2022 ranking was striking because the Netherlands had been in the top ten since 2002, when the RSF started using a modified method to draw up the list. To assess freedom of the press, the organization looks at politics, laws, and the safety of journalists, among other things. The security category now weighs more heavily in determining the degree of press freedom in countries.

Norway stood at the top of the ranking for the seventh year in a row in 2023, followed by Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands in sixth place. Ireland’s high score is striking because the highest positions on the list usually go to the Nordic countries.

The worst-rated countries include Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, Iraq, and Iran. North Korea is again at the bottom. China dropped four places to second to last. The RSF criticized the Asian country for imprisoning journalists and described it as “one of the largest exporters of propaganda content.”

“Back to sixth place is good news. This position fits better with the journalistic working climate in the Netherlands, where journalists are generally free to do their work,” Thomas Bruning of the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) said in response to the index.

The Netherlands’ return to the top ten isn’t all good news, he continued. “Digital and physical security for journalists is still a serious problem. Journalists in the Netherlands, like many other countries, are confronted with a hostile attitude from part of the public. With the introduction of PersVeilig, journalists in the Netherlands are better prepared for this type of violence, and they have more tools to continue to do their work. In addition, other points of attention remain in the Netherlands, such as easy access to public information and popper protection of journalistic sources.”

Reporting by ANP

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