Netherlands back in top 10 for press freedom as threats decline

Coronavirus protests in 2021 were a frequent flashpoint. Photo: Depositphotos
Coronavirus protests in 2021 were a frequent flashpoint. Photo: Depositphotos

The Netherlands is back among the top 10 countries in the world for press freedom, as measured by campaign group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The Dutch were ranked sixth on the annual index, in between Finland and Lithuania, which scores countries on criteria such as their ability to collect and disseminate news and the level of threat faced by journalists and media organisations.

Last year the Netherlands dropped to 28th place, just above Argentina and the Dominican Republic, partly as a result of the murder of the investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries in Amsterdam.

RSF scored the country highly for its diverse and independent media sector, though it expressed concern that two companies, DPG Media and Mediahuis, dominated the newspaper market.

It also noted that several formerly Russia-based media outlets, including the Moscow Times and TV Dozhd, had found a safe haven in Amsterdam.

PersVeilig, set up in 2020 to monitor media safety, said it received fewer reports of threats to journalists last year than in 2021, when protests against coronavirus measures often sparked confrontations.

The Netherlands’s lowest score in 2022 was for personal security, where RWF said organised crime still posed a major threat, while the media was ‘under threat from populist parties on the far right and far left of the political spectrum’.

Norway headed the list for the seventh year in a row, increasing its score to 95.18 out of a possible 100, followed by Ireland, Denmark and Sweden.

Germany dropped from 16th to 21st place, reflecting growing threats to individual journalists both in person and online, while Belgium fell from 23rd to 31st.

The UK was in 26th place, two places lower than last year, while the United States dropped from 42nd to 45th place out of 180 countries. North Korea was once again bottom of the list.

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