Press freedom reports

Syria comes in 153rd out of 168 in Reporters Without Borders’ annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index, just above Iraq. The report states that Syria has “no independent media, only organs that spout government propaganda. The rulers of these countries keep a tight grip on the news and have set many red lines journalists must not cross. Self-censorship remains the best protection.” Reporters Without Borders perceive a “very serious situation” for press freedom in Syria. The annual report on press freedom notes that “state control of the media and the ongoing state of emergency continues to be used as an excuse to arrest many media workers. Eight journalists and cyber-dissidents were imprisoned in 2006.” The Syrian president Bashar al-Asad also counts as one of Reporters Without Borders’ “Predators.”


According to the annual World Press Freedom Review by the IPI “the Syrian media is among the most controlled in the region and the authorities exercise a tight reign on the press. The government or ruling Baath party own or operate most major media outlets. The few private FM radio stations granted licenses in recent years are not allowed to broadcast news or political content. A small number of private newspapers publish within Syria. At times, these newspapers publish mild criticism of the regime but such actions are often met with harsh reprisals. Relentless intimidation and harassment of opposition voices mean that most publications tow the government line when reporting on domestic issues or foreign policies.”


In the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2006 Top 10 of Most Censored Countries Syria comes in at 9th place. According to CPJ “the media are under heavy state control and influence. Some newspapers and broadcast outlets are in private hands but are owned by regime loyalists, or are barred from disseminating political content. Some private and party newspapers offer mild criticism of some government policies or the Baath party, but they are largely toothless. State papers and broadcasters remain unflinchingly supportive of the regime. The press law maps out an array of restrictions against the media, including a requirement that periodicals obtain licenses from the prime minister, who can deny any application not in the “public interest.” The regime has harassed critics through arrests or warnings.”