Caribbean countries regressed on this year’s Press Freedom Index, which was released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) since 2002 based upon the organisation's own assessment of the countries' press freedom records in the previous year.
Trinidad and Tobago is the highest-ranked Caribbean country on the 2023 index at 30th, which was five places lower than 2022. In its assessment, RSF said: “Year after year, Trinidad and Tobago maintains its good record in terms of freedom of the press, even though there is still room for improvement.”
RSF said “Trinidad and Tobago provides a generally safe and protected environment for the profession”.
Jamaica, who was the highest-ranked Caribbean country in 2022, fell 20 places to be ranked at number 32. RSF said “freedom of the press has continued to improve in Jamaica, and the right to information is widely respected”. However, the group noted that journalists, in rare instances, have faced physical attacks.
“A videographer for Television Jamaica and a reporter for the Jamaica Gleaner were attacked in November 2022 while covering a teachers’ protest in St Catherine Parish outside Kingston when a man interrupted their interview and damaged their equipment,” RSF said. “Apart from this incident, no acts of violence against journalists had been recorded in the past ten years. Still, reporters must measure the threat posed to them by the country’s high crime rate when they are investigating a sensitive subject.”
The lowest-ranked Caribbean country was Cuba. The communist island ranked 172nd, which was one place higher than in 2022. Despite the improvement, RSF said: “Cuba remains, year in and year out, the worst country for press freedom in Latin America”.
“Arrests, arbitrary detentions, threats of imprisonment, persecution and harassment, illegal raids on homes, confiscation and destruction of equipment – all this awaits journalists who do not toe the Cuban Communist Party line. The authorities also control foreign journalists’ coverage by granting accreditation selectively, and by expelling those considered ‘too negative’ about the government”.
Caribbean Press Freedom Ranking for 2023:
1. Trinidad and Tobago (30)
2. Jamaica (32)
3. Dominican Republic (43)
4. Suriname (48)
5. Belize (51)
6. Guyana (60)
7. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (93)
8. Haiti (99)
9. Cuba (172)
Norway retained its top spot on the Press Freedom Index followed by Ireland and Denmark.