The latest Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday no longer includes Germany among the leading nations.
Out of the 180 countries assessed, Germany came 13th, down two spots from 2020 ranking.
“Due to many attacks during demonstrations against measures to contain the pandemic, we had to reduce Germany’s grade for press freedom from ‘good’ to only ‘satisfactory,’ which is clearly an alarm signal,” said RSF board spokesperson, Michael Rediske.
He said violence against media professionals in Germany had reached unprecedented levels.
“There were at least 65 acts of violence against journalists in 2020, a five-fold increase compared to 2019,” he said.
RSF said it also thought there were more unreported cases in 2020 than in the past.
Most of the physical and verbal attacks occurred during or alongside demonstrations, and particularly protests against government coronavirus restrictions.
“Journalists were punched, kicked and pushed to the ground, they were spat on and harassed, insulted, threatened and prevented from doing their work,” RSF said.
Only 12 countries were rated good in terms of press freedom, the lowest number since the rating began.
There was little change among those ranked lowest, which included China, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.
RSF also criticised the fact that many governments and leaders were spreading disinformation about the pandemic, including former U.S. president, Donald Trump, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.
Norway, Finland and Sweden came out top of the list.