Estonia falls one place on World Press Freedom Index 2021

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2021 World Press Freedom Index rankings. Source: Reporters Without Borders.

Estonia has fallen one place to 15th on this year's World Press Freedom Index 2021. The organization said: "2020 was a tough year for Estonian journalists."

The index is compiled annually by the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and evaluates the level of freedom available to the media in 180 counties.

The organization titled its report about Estonia a "Difficult time".

"2020 was a tough year for Estonian journalists. Members of the government often attacked them verbally. Some politicians threatened to reduce funding for the state broadcaster because of its critical reporting. On several occasions, government ministers refused to provide information to journalists at press conferences, without giving any valid reason," RSF wrote.

"A penal code amendment that allows a court to ban journalists from covering a case was used in 2020. Several court orders prevented journalists from reporting information of a public interest nature."

There was also some positive news: "Nonetheless, the supreme court set a positive precedent for press freedom and the public interest in December by overturning a decision by the state auditing court preventing the newspaper Eesti Päevaleht from reporting the testimony of witnesses and part of a trial involving corruption at the port of Tallinn."

€1.5 million in state aid was also given to media companies to help them survive the Covid-19 pandemic, although less than initially hoped.  

Estonia ranked 14th last year, 11th in 2019, 12th in 2018 and 2017 and 14th in 2016. The highest position the country has achieved was 10th in 2015.

Norway, Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica and Demark were the top five countries, while Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, China and Djibouti were the lowest scorers. Russia was placed 150th.

Latvia placed 22nd and Lithuania 28th. The United Kingdom (33), France (34) and the  United States (44) were all below the Baltics.

The report can be read online here.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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