Steady Retreat in Press Freedoms


Alaa Kamal
No doubt that the development of journalism and freedom of press is a feature of freedom and development of society that endorses this development, and these freedoms are so important that they are listed among the fundamental rights of human rights that states sign  to respect and protect. Undoubtedly ,the Arab region is the worst region in the protection and protection of freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of information, and some Arab countries are known for their repressive  bloody record in dealing with the media and press freedom, led by Syria that is very hostile to freedom of the press. This is not an impression but is the opinion of a specialized organization.
According to Syria Al Waad blog and the International Network for the exchange of information ,IFEX,  that  Reporters Without Borders issued its annual report on press freedom in 2009 under the title of the continent in a steady retreat . The report ranked Syria  165 /175 in oppressing freedom of the press. Meaning that , Syria is one of the worst ten countries in the world in the area of press freedoms and the media. Syria has  declined in status from last year's (2008), where it ranked 159/173 countries covered by the sorting.

This is not the first time this year that Syria is given a low rank regarding freedom of the press. As per the Damascus Center for Theoretical Studies and civil rights , the report of "Freedom House" ,a few months ago , has ranked Syria as #16 in the worst Arab countries in the field of freedom of the press and #178 in the world. Comoros  was  ranked first and the last was Libya.
Steady deterioration  of press freedom in Syria, according to the annual report by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of expression (SCM) 2009 is due to the stagnant legal environment for practice of journalism , despite government promises to enhance in this area, and the continued state control over key parts in the information process such as distribution, advertising and information monopoly. SCM warned of the  unsafe journalist work environment in Syria, where they are extremely vulnerable in every aspect regarding their  financial rights and social guarantees amidst shmeful silence of the Union of Journalists and the ministry of social affairs and labor and the parliament.
As soon as the report of Reporters Without Borders the Syrian Committee for Human Rights commented, saying: “This category whether agreed upon in all aspects or partially disagreed is an  indication of what's going on in Syria. We are suffering an iron grip  and absolute control over the media of all kinds printed and audio-visual, Internet, pressure and repression against journalists and bloggers who tend to express their opinions .

The Committee added : The ranking  of "Reporters without borders" should be an opportunity  to look on the collapsing situation of freedom of the press and media freedom in Syria”.

The Syrian Human Rights Committee called Syrian authorities to raise their hands off the press and media and stop monitoring the internet, and requests  them the release of journalists and bloggers who were arrested for doing their jobs.