NEW DELHI: May 3 is marked as World Press Freedom day. The important day comes as the world sees a crackdown on press freedom, in the form of targeted killings of journalists, censorship laws, criminal prosecutions, threats and intimidation, and censorship.

For instance, last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-profit organisation promoting press freedoms worldwide, released its first comprehensive report on the Obama administration’s surveillance practices and their effects on the domestic press. During the time that Obama has been in office, the number of individuals prosecuted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for leaked information under the 1917 Espionage Act has seen a staggering increase.

In Egypt, 300 people, including a large number of journalists, were arrested after confrontation broke out between Egyptian protesters and police. Immediately following the arrests, Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, accused Egypt of "crushing freedom of peaceful assembly" and "violating other rights." "The authorities say they are restoring stability and security, but their paranoia has created a real blind spot and appears to have rendered them incapable of distinguishing between peaceful demonstrations and genuine security threats."

Amongst the 300 or so people arrested, were 44 journalists, prompting a statement from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that condemned the arrests of journalists, and added that Egypt was "the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide in 2015."

Elsewhere, just a few days ago, a LGBT magazine editor in Bangladesh was hacked to death. Bloggers and writers are routinely targeted in Bangladesh, with editor Nazimuddin Samad being the sixth secular writer or blogger to have brutally killed in Bangladesh’s capital within a span of just 14 months.

In South Africa, a new bill on national security allows for whistle blowers to be jailed for decades – the first legislation since the end of apartheid that curtails a freedom many once fought for.

In Turkey, newspaper editors are being routinely harassed, rounded up and jailed. In Tunisia, the media’s main enemy is not a tyrannical dictator, but defamation and libel are punishable offenses within the country’s penal code. A pending bill that would criminalize “denigration” of security forces.

In Mexico, journalists are routinely targeted – by criminal gangs, or maybe by colluding public authorities – and only rarely is their death punished.

The above are just a few, isolated examples -- press freedom is routinely targeted, threatened and compromised in every country in the world.

According to the World Press Freedom Index, 2016, the data regarding press freedom is “indicative of a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control over newsrooms by governments and private-sector interests.”

No part of the world is unaffected. In Africa, media freedom violations seem to be taking a growing toll on journalists. The biggest deterioration was seen in South Sudan (140th), which fell 15 places in the Index. In this country torn by civil war since 2013, journalists fell victim to the conflict’s violence and a campaign of intimidation by the authorities.

The Middle East and North Africa continued to be one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous regions for journalists, who in many places were trapped between rival factions, belligerents, radical groups and governments that behave in an extreme fashion and are often adept at their own terror strategies.

Media freedom declined in the Americas in 2015 because of mounting political tension in many countries fuelled by economic recession, uncertainty about the future and weakening solidarity between communities.

The media freedom situation worsened significantly or stagnated in most of the Asia-Pacific region. The decline affected eastern Asia’s democracies, previously regarded as regional models.

Media freedom has declined steadily in the post-Soviet states. Nearly two thirds of the region’s countries are ranked around 150th or lower in the Index and their scores keep on falling.

The past year seems to have confirmed the trend seen in the 2015 Index – progressive erosion of the European model. Counter-espionage and counter-terrorist measures were misused. Laws were passed allowing mass surveillance. Conflicts of interest increased. Authorities tightened their grip on state media and sometimes privately-owned media as well. All in all, the continent that respects media freedom most seemed to be on a downhill course.

And where do the countries rank on the index? India ranks 133 -- below Nepal (105) and Bhutan (94), but above Pakistan (147), Afghanistan (120), Sri Lanka (141), Burma (143) in terms of the countries in South Asia.

“Journalists and bloggers are attacked and anathematized by various religious groups that are quick to take offence. At the same time, it is hard for journalists to cover regions such as Kashmir that are regarded as sensitive by the government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems indifferent to these threats and problems, and there is no mechanism for protecting journalists. Instead, in a desire to increase control of media coverage, Modi envisages opening a journalism university run by former propaganda ministry officials,” the report says in reference to India’s low ranking.

Lowest in the list are Eritrea (180), North Korea (179), Turkmenistan (178), Syria (177) and China (176). At the top of the list are Finland (1), Netherlands (2), Norway (3), Denmark (4) and New Zealand (5).

However, even in the highly ranked countries, the media continues to face threats to its freedoms. Cyber security and terrorism -- worthy concerns on their own -- are being used to restrict media freedoms.