The government has welcomed Reporters Without Borders’ (RWB) 2010 report on global press freedom, which has praised the Maldives for making “solid gains” in consolidating media freedoms.

“Some developing countries have managed to make solid gains, particularly Mongolia and the Maldives,” the report states.

“As a rule, the authorities have been respectful of press freedoms, exemplified by their decriminalization of press offenses in the Maldives.”

Last year, the government decriminalized defamation, to ensure journalists cannot be sent to jail for anything they write.

The Maldives was ranked in 52nd place in RWB’s 2010 league table, just three places behind Italy.

This represents a modest statistical change in last year’s league table, when the Maldives was ranked 51st. In 2007, the Maldives was ranked 129th place in the league table.

Other international organizations have also praised recent improvements in Maldivian democracy and freedoms.

Last year, American NGO Freedom House promoted the Maldives from a “not free” to a “partially free” country, in its report on global civil liberties.

RWB said that Scandinavian countries had the most press freedom in 2010. Finland, Norway and Sweden were all awarded joint first place in the 2010 league table.

Iran (placed 175th), North Korea (177th) and Eritrea (178) were among the worst countries for media freedom.