Jailed Journalists Set Record for Sixth Year in 2021

The government’s heightened intolerance of independent reporting has pushed the number of jailed journalists worldwide to a record 293 t...


The government’s heightened intolerance of independent reporting has pushed the number of jailed journalists worldwide to a record 293 this year, more than a quarter of whom are in China alone, a monitoring group said in an annual survey released Thursday.

The total is up from 280 in 2020 and is the sixth consecutive annual record for the number of journalists jailed globally, according to the New York-based watch group. Committee to Protect Journalists. Since the group created the Incarceration Database in 1992, it has become a global benchmark for measuring the repression of journalists.

Joel Simon, the group’s executive director, and Arlene Getz, its editorial director, said when publishing the survey that the relentless increase in the number of jailed journalists reflected different circumstances in different countries, but that a common denominator was the growing reluctance of authoritarian governments to respect the public disclosure of information they saw as a threat.

“This number reflects two inextricable challenges: Governments are determined to control and manage information, and they are increasingly brazen in their efforts to do so,” said Simon. “Imprisoning journalists for reporting the news is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime. “

The inquiry, which counted those in jail as of December 1, offered a counterpoint to China’s aggressive efforts to run for the Beijing Winter Olympics in February and to portray the ruling Communist Party as a defender of democratic freedoms.

Fifty journalists are known to be jailed by China, according to the survey, more than anywhere else, and for the first time including journalists from Hong Kong, Chinese territory under severe security law in 2020 after protests in favor of democracy there.

No. 2 this year is Myanmar, where a military junta seized power in February, arrested many journalists and jailed at least 26. Egypt with 25, Vietnam, 23 and Belarus, 19, round out the top five on the survey’s list, followed by Turkey, 18, Eritrea, 16, Saudi Arabia and Russia, both 14, and Iran, 9.

Ms Getz acknowledged that some countries that have historically been among the best jailers of journalists have defied the trend. Turkey, for example, which was No.1 in 2018, fell in the rankings after the release of 20 journalists last year.

But in Turkey’s case, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, silenced the national media in a crackdown that followed the failed 2016 coup. Many journalists have turned to other professions, including while others awaiting prosecution have been paroled.

Ms Getz said “it would be naïve to see the decline in the number of prisoners as a sign of a change of mind towards the press.”

No journalist has been jailed in North America as of December 1, the group said, but it noted that the Monitoring of press freedom in the United States, a collaboration of the group and other media advocacy organizations, has reported at least 56 arrests and detentions of journalists across the United States this year, 86 percent of them during protests. This total almost equals the totals for 2017, 2018 and 2019 combined.

The group also reported that the number of journalists killed around the world in retaliation for their work stood at at least 19 this year as of December 1, up from 22 for 2020 as a whole. Three more journalists were killed then this year. they were covering conflict zones, the group said, and two others were killed while covering protests or clashes in the streets.

Mexico remained the deadliest country for journalists in the Western Hemisphere, the group said, with three people killed in retaliation for their reporting. The group said it was investigating six other murders of journalists in Mexico to determine the killers’ motives.

India had the highest number of journalists killed in retaliation for their reporting – four – and a fifth was killed while covering a protest, the group said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jailed Journalists Set Record for Sixth Year in 2021
Jailed Journalists Set Record for Sixth Year in 2021
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