Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres, RSF) have released their 2020 World Press Freedom Index, which calculates the global press freedom ranking of countries around the world. This year, due to the AFP raids in 2019, the lack of legislative protections for the function journalism plays in our democracy, and concentrated media ownership, Australia’s position has fallen from 21st to 26th. We have fallen eight places since 2018, a worrying trajectory.

The Asia–Pacific as a whole has slipped more than any other region in the world, with RSF stating:

“It is the Asia-Pacific region that saw the greatest rise in press freedom violations (up 1.7%). Australia (down 5 at 26th) used to be the regional model but is now characterised by its threats to the confidentiality of sources and to investigative journalism.

Two other countries also made significant contributions to the increase in the region’s press freedom violation score. One was Singapore (158th), which fell seven places, in large part thanks to its Orwellian “fake news” law, and joined the countries coloured black on the press freedom map. The other was Hong Kong, which also fell seven places because of its treatment of journalists during pro-democracy demonstrations.”

These results bring further clarity to the need for Australia to safeguard its democracy by introducing a Media Freedom Act, which the AJF has been calling for since before the AFP raids. It is essential to the democratic health of the country and its national security, but also to the health of the region.

Read the full report here.

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