The FCPA Blog reminds itself often that freedom of the press and free speech are the most powerful weapons against corruption. As Louis Brandeis said, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
The Freedom of the Press report from Freedom House measures the level of media independence in 197 countries and territories.
As early as 2006, Freedom House was saying a poor anti-corruption performance — across geographical regions and governing systems — “is a pervasive problem throughout the world and a major obstacle to the strengthening of democratic institutions.”
The group advocates more transparency and accountability to improve governance and promote democracy.
But press freedom and free speech are under fire, even in the Western democracies, as the recent terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen showed. Governments are also imposing more restrictions on traditional media and internet freedom.
“Censorship and surveillance, repressive new laws, criminal penalties, and arrests of [Internet] users have been on the rise in numerous settings,” Freedom House said.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in March 2014, “We’ll eradicate Twitter. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish state.”
Three years ago, Freedom House was among the 33 civil society and business groups that opposed amending the FCPA. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was pushing to introduce a “compliance defense” to the FCPA and narrow the definition of “foreign official.”
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The average CPI rank of the countries with the most press freedom is 6.8.
1. Sweden (4)
2. Norway (5)
3. Netherlands (8)
4. Finland (3)
5. Belgium (15)
6. Switzerland (5)
7. Luxembourg (9)
8. Iceland (12)
9. Denmark (1)
10. Andorra (not ranked)
The worst ten countries on Press Freedom report have an average rank on the Corruption Perceptions Index of 135.
188. Bahrain (55)
189. Syria (159)
190. Iran (136)
191. Equatorial Guinea (145)
192. Cuba (63)
193. Belarus (119)
194. Eritrea (166)
195. Uzbekistan (166)
196. Turkmenistan (169)
197. North Korea (174)
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.