Gallery Of Grim Portraits

Reporters Without Borders has unveiled a gallery of grim portraits, those of 37 heads of state or government who crack down massively on press freedom. Some of these “predators of press freedom” have been operating for more than two decades while others have just joined the blacklist, which for the first time includes two women and a European :

Sheikh Hasina – Bangladesh

Sheikh Hasina – Bangladesh
Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Author: DFID – UK Department for International Development

The daughter of Sheikh Mujib, the country’s independence hero, she led the opposition to various authoritarian regimes for years, but took office as prime minister in January 2009, after winning a parliamentary election, and thereafter became increasingly authoritarian herself, cracking down ruthlessly on press freedom. Her predatory exploits include the adoption of a digital security law in 2018 that has led to more than 70 journalists and bloggers being prosecuted.

Carrie Lam – Hong Kong

Carrie Lam – Hong Kong
Author: Iris Tong

She heads a government that was still democratic when she took over. The chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since 2017, Lam has proved to be the puppet of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and now openly supports his predatory policies towards the media. They led to the closure of Hong Kong’s leading independent newspaper, Apple Daily, on 24 June and the jailing of its founder, Jimmy Lai, a 2020 RSF Press Freedom laureate.

Viktor Orbán – Hungary

Viktor Orbán – Hungary
EPP Summit December 2010. Author: European People’s Party

Self-proclaimed champion of “illiberal democracy,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has not stopped attacking media pluralism and independence since his return to power in 2010. Public broadcasters have been turned into a propaganda mouthpieces, while private media have been subjugated or reduced to silence. The few remaining independent media are discriminated against in the allocation of state advertising and access to official information, while their journalists are systematically denigrated in pro-government media and branded as purveyors of “fake news.”

The Grim Portraits Gallery

For each of the predators, RSF has compiled a file identifying their “predatory method,” how they censor and persecute journalists, and their “favourite targets”. A major challenge now is for these predators to pay the highest possible price for their behaviour.


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Head Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Tommy Olovsson

I have more than 15 years of experience of working online - administrating websites of various topics. I am also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Departement 1. Right now, I concentrate on Web Publishing and Affiliate Marketing