Switzerland has leapt up the rankings of the annual Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, from 20th in the world last year to seventh today, out of 180 countries.
That puts Switzerland among the countries that made the most progress over the past year, according to the annual survey. Reporters Without Borders attributes Switzerland’s jump in the rankings to worse results from other countries such as Germany, Canada or the Czech Republic. In addition, there was a lack of difficult media cases in the past year like those that have damaged the country’s press freedom in the past.
One such case was the so-called “Giroud Affair”, where a court ordered an article removed from the website of Swiss Public Television, RTS (part of swissinfo.ch’s parent company) reporting that a wealthy wine merchant in the Valais region had been illegally cutting expensive wines with lower-quality ones.
Switzerland had average results in the category of transparency and public access to records. While canton Graubünden is planning on implementing a transparency law, similar movements in Lucerne and Thurgau recently failed. And although the federal court voiced its support for the country’s transparency law at the end of last year, Reporters Without Borders noted a trend of “excluding certain areas from the principle of public access” on the part of the Federal Chancellery, responsible for freedom of information requests.
Winners and losers
Elsewhere in the world, Scandinavian countries topped the rankings, with Finland, Norway and Denmark placing in the top three. Eritrea came in last, with North Korea and Turkmenistan also in the bottom three.
Tunisia made the greatest leap forward, from 126th place last year to 96th this year.
The annual index from Reporters Without Borders attempts to rank countries according to the degree of freedom journalists have to work independently and access information.
swissinfo.ch and agencies