Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has published its annual World Press Freedom Index report. The north of Cyprus ranked 90th among 180 countries, falling 14 places compared to last year.

According to the World Press Freedom Index Report, attacks against journalists around the world increased last year.

More than 100 reporters have been killed since the attacks launched by Israel in Gaza. The report stated that at least 22 of the journalists were killed while performing their duties.

In the report, which stated that attacks on journalists around the world have increased significantly compared to last year, 180 countries were ranked according to the free, independent working and reporting status of journalists.

In the RSF Index, countries' scores are determined by five indicators: "political", "security", "economic", "socio-cultural" and "legal".

According to the report, Middle Eastern regions performed the worst in terms of restrictions imposed by government forces on press freedom.

Over the past year, governments in the region have sought to control and restrict the media through violence, arrests and draconian laws. Added to this was "the impunity of violent crimes against journalists".

MEDIA PLURALISM IS UNDER THREAT IN THE NORTH OF CYPRUS

The report stated that the relations between politicians and media owners affect the independence of editorial content and emphasized that media pluralism in the north of Cyprus is under threat.

Problems such as lawsuits filed against the media, verbal attacks against journalists and direct interference in editorial work were included in the report. It was also stated that the increasing dominance of business people in the media harms media freedom.

The report also stated that the freedom of the press in the northern part of Cyprus was negatively affected due to the increasing pressure of the Turkish State, and it was mentioned that the Turkish and TRNC states imposed sanctions, lawsuits and criminal proceedings against journalists who criticized their army or officials.

KISHMIR FACES 10 YEARS IN JAIL FOR CRITICISM OF THE TURKISH ARMY

The report stated that Basın-Sen President Journalist Ali Kişmir faced 10 years in prison for criticizing the Turkish army and four journalists were prevented from entering Turkey, and that other journalists were also censored, fired or forced to resign after criticizing Turkish Republic policies or TRNC politicians. It was also stated that the public media is completely under the control of the government.

The following topics were also examined in the report:

Legal framework

While the legislation protects freedom of the press, it restricts it in order to protect public order, national security and even public morality. Insult is a crime and there are no laws to protect resources. Large compensation lawsuits are being filed against the media.

THE LAWS WERE PLACED ABOVE THE ECHR AND CREATED A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT IN THE COUNTRY

Turkish Cypriot authorities have recently attempted to change existing legislation to further limit freedom of expression. The decision of the 'cartoon/collage case' filed by the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office against the Afrika/Avrupa Newspaper, which resulted in acquittal at the Lower Court, was appealed. In the case discussed at the Supreme Court, the laws in the TRNC were placed above the European Convention on Human Rights, creating a dangerous precedent in the country. Journalists in the country can also be tried in absentia in Turkey.

Economic context

The economic crisis caused by the depreciation of the Turkish lira also deeply affected the media. Their dependence on advertising and sponsorships has increased business influence over editorial content. Due to economic difficulties, many media organizations changed owners. At the same time, many journalists undertake public relations work, which affects their objectivity.

Safety

Although there have been no serious threats or physical attacks, an increasing number of journalists are being subjected to verbal attacks and harassment campaigns by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities. Reporters are also often victims of online harassment.

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In the political context, the report states that Turkey's increasing pressure has negatively affected press freedom in the north of Cyprus, and that sanctions, lawsuits and criminal proceedings have been implemented against journalists who criticize the Turkish government and Turkish Cypriot authorities.

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