Costa Rica maintained an impressive ranking in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index released Wednesday, placing 21st worldwide for press freedom, third in the Americas and first in Latin America.
But according to Reporters Without Borders, which releases the annual index, two recent controversies were not analyzed in this year’s index. The allegations – of government spying on reporters and self-censorship controversies in La Nacíon – could hurt the country in 2015.
Camille Soulier, head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk, wrote to The Tico Times that those cases were detrimental to press freedom and will be taken into account in next year’s index.
“The 2014 Index is retroactive, and covers the period from November 2012 to November 2013, although some elements of December 2013, such as the upheaval in Ukraine or journalist deaths, can also be taken into consideration,” Soulier said.
In the rankings this year, Costa Rica beat out all other countries in Latin America . Media outlets here aren’t faced with the violence or regulation seen in many other countries within the Americas, some of which ranked outside the top 100. Nevertheless, the scandals, especially the alleged police spying on journalists, could prove damaging to Costa Rica’s press freedom reputation.
The United States, which ranked 46th in the index, was lambasted in Reporters Without Borders’ analysis for harassing reporters. That included the discovery that the U.S. Justice Department had secretly seized phone records from Associated Press reporters, a similar infringement to the alleged spying by Costa Rican police on Diario Extra journalists.
Several press freedom groups, including Reporters Without Borders, vilified Costa Rica when the spying accusations came to light in mid-January. Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.