Island ranked best in the Americas
St. Lucia has emerged as the top country for press freedom in the Americas, according to a survey conducted by the US-based independent watchdog organization, Freedom House. Freedom House said it assesses media freedom using common criteria for all settings, in poor and rich countries as well as in countries of varying ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
It said all states from the most democratic to the most authoritarian, are committed Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”.
It said that while “cultural distinctions or economic underdevelopment may affect the character or volume of news flows within a country or territory, these and other differences are not acceptable explanations for infringements such as centralized control of the content of news and information.”
Freedom House said that St. Lucia has a global rank of 11 from 199 countries surveyed and is followed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines as the second top country in the Americas for press freedom. Kingstown has a global ranking of 17.
The other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries listed in the report are Barbados and Jamaica are both placed fourth with a global ranking of 21, followed by St. Kitts-Nevis in the seventh position with a global ranking of 25.
The next CARICOM countries are the Bahamas and Belize at number nine with a global ranking of 31, followed by Grenada at 11 (38), Dominica 13th (44) Trinidad and Tobago 14 (47) and Suriname at 15 (51).
Freedom House placed Antigua and Barbuda at 17th (68) followed by Guyana 18 (70) Haiti 25 (110).
Freedom House said that of the 199 countries and territories assessed for 2015, a total of 62 (31 per cent) were rated Free, 71 (36 per cent) were rated Partly Free, and 66 (33 per cent) were rated Not Free. “This balance marks a slight shift toward the Not Free category compared with the edition covering 2014, which featured 63 Free, 71 Partly Free, and 65 Not Free countries and territories,” it said.