Sri Lanka has been ranked low in a press freedom index for 2011 released by the U.S based ‘Freedom House’ to mark world press freedom day.The press freedom ranking has Sri Lanka at 161 out of 192 countries with a status saying the media is not free in the country. However, after eight years of decline in the global average score, including particularly steep drops in 2007, 2008, and 2009, there was a slight improvement of 0.14 points for 2011. This break from the negative trend was driven by a significant net improvement in the Middle East and North Africa, coupled with a more modest improvement in the Asia-Pacific region.In terms of thematic categories, the global average score improvement appears to stem from gains primarily in the legal category, and secondarily in the economic category. The political category showed a global decline when compared with the previous year. (Colombo Gazette) This balance marks a shift toward the Partly Free category compared with the edition covering 2010, which featured 68 Free, 65 Partly Free, and 63 Not Free countries and territories.The analysis found that only 14.5 percent of the world’s inhabitants lived in countries with a Free press, while 45 percent had a Partly Free press and 40.5 percent lived in Not Free environments. In the Asia/Pacific region Sri Lanka is ranked 33 out of 40 countries just ahead of China, Afghanistan and Laos. Freedom House said that of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2011, including the new country of South Sudan, a total of 66 (33.5 percent) were rated Free, 72 (36.5 percent) were rated Partly Free, and 59 (30 percent) were rated Not Free.
Officials at the arm’s-length statutory body last night said the “shocking” statistics were most likely a significant underestimate of the true scale of childhood vulnerability.They hope that by compiling data relating to childhood ill-health, abuse, neglect and criminality in one place for the first time, they will prompt a joined-up Government approach to protecting disadvantaged children.They found that almost 670,000 children are living in families that have vulnerabilities, including more than 15,499 children living with an adult receiving alcohol treatment and nearly 11,624 living with an adult in drug treatment.”It is shocking that half a million children need direct intervention or care from the state because they are living vulnerable lives,” said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner. The launch of the report is the first stage in a programme of work on children’s vulnerability.It will start by tackling the confusion over what “vulnerability” means, and the commissioner will now consult on the definitions and develop a framework that can be used widely.The Children’s Commissioner report argues that Government should improve its data collection, and questions how effectively the problems outlined in the report can be tackled if departments and agencies do not know how many children are affected or cannot agree on how to define and therefore identify them.”The truth is nobody knows the exact number of vulnerable children,” she said.”We can trace in minute detail the academic progress of a child from four to 18 and beyond, but when it comes to describing and assessing the scale of negative factors in a child’s life which will hamper their progress, we are floundering.” The Minister for Children and Families, Robert Goodwill, said: “Every single child should have their voice heard and receive the care and support that they need to realise their potential.”Across government, we are taking action to address this issue – whether through reforming children’s social care, prioritising mental health, or better protecting victims of domestic violence and abuse.”For some of the most vulnerable, our new What Works Centre for children’s social care will ensure social workers across the country are able to learn from best practice in keeping children safe.”We recognise the scale of this challenge – and, while the number of children in need has remained relatively static since 2010, there is always more to do.”Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Shadow Minister for Children and Families, commenting on the Children’s Commissioner’s report on measuring the number of vulnerable children, said:“The shocking findings of this report should serve as a wake-up call to this Government who have so far refused to even measure the scale of the problem let alone come up with effective policy solutions.“From the 800,000 children suffering from mental health difficulties, the 46,000 thought to be in gangs, or the 119,000 homeless or in unstable housing, these figures lay out the startling facts about the lives of vulnerable children who have largely been ignored by this Government. “On top of that there are many hundreds of thousands of other children growing up in potentially high-risk situations.”Yet even more shocking is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher.”Currently different agencies involved with children may apply different criteria to the term “vulnerable”, and sometimes the same criteria is used but the term “vulnerable” is not. Around 46,000 youths are members of gangsCredit:Christopher Furlong/Getty More than 800,000 children are suffering from mental health problems, the first official estimate of the nation’s vulnerable minors reveals.The report by the Children’s Commissioner for England also found that 580,000 young people – equivalent to the population of the city of Manchester – are receiving interventions from the state due to a range of causes from endemic parental unemployment to alcohol abuse.Around 46,000 young people aged from 10 to 18 are also members of street gangs, while 1,200 children are newly identified as victims of modern slavery every year. It is shocking that half a million children need direct intervention or care from the state because they are living vulnerable livesAnne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.