Iceland is not amongst the top ten countries praised for freedom of the press anymore, says International organisation Reporters Without Borders.
According to their 2018 report, in fact, Iceland fell from 10th to 13th place on the list, below countries like Estonia, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Belgium, and well below its Nordic neighbours. Norway and Sweden are in fact still first and second on the list, swiftly followed by The Netherlands. Although Denmark is still in the top ten, it has fallen from 4th to 9th place since 2017.
When it comes to freedom of the press in Iceland, Reporters Without Borders stress the importance of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which was adopted in Parliament in 2010 to increase transparency, protect the independence of the media and defend whistleblowers. But while no journalists or media assistants have been killed in Iceland last year, the country now fares worse than in the past few years because of the pressure exercised by politicians on local media.
“Though the constitution guarantees ‘absolute’ freedom of expression, the situation of journalists has worsened since 2012 because relations between politicians and media have soured,” the reports reads.
As reported in February, the relationship between politics and media has historically been a complicated one, both when it comes to ownership and neutrality as well as political pressure. The most recent example of this worrying trend is the injunction on media outlets Stundin and Reykjavík Media issued by the Reykjavík District Commissioner in October 2017.
Although Iceland has fallen further down the ranking, other European countries fare much worse, with places like Malta falling from 18th to 65th place in the list. In regards to this matter, Reporters Without Borders want to draw attention to the fact that hostility towards media isn’t merely a condition of authoritarian countries anymore, but it’s become a significant problem in countries like the US, the Philippines and even the Czech Republic, and threatens democracies across the world.
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