Record Number of Journalists in Prisons Around the World

A record number of journalists are being detained in prisons around the world, according to a report by the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).  In total, CPJ found 232 media professionals imprisoned worldwide, an increase of 53 compared to the same day in 2011 and the highest since the group began its survey in 1990.  The number also represents an increase of 47 compared to the previous record of 185 set in 1996.

Source: CPJ

Source: CPJ

The group explained that the high number of incarcerated media workers is predominantly down to the widespread use of charges related to terrorism and anti-state laws.

Large numbers of journalists imprisoned in Turkey, Iran and China have contributed towards the international record, they noted.

CPJ executive director, Joel Simon said: “We are living in an age when anti-state charges and ‘terrorist’ labels have become the preferred means that governments use to intimidate, detain, and imprison journalists.”

“Criminalising probing coverage of inconvenient topics violates not only international law, but impedes the right of people around the world to gather, disseminate, and receive independent information,” he added. Turkey Detaining Highest Number of Media Workers

Turkey continues to jail more journalists than any other country in the world according to the report. The number of journalists in prison in Turkey reached record highs this year with reporters and editors being charged with “terrorism” and crimes against the state.

As of December 1, Turkey had at least 49 journalists in jail, including dozens of Kurdish media workers accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

The other countries which hold high numbers of journalists include Iran with 45 journalists imprisoned at the start of the month, followed by China with 32, Eritrea with 28 and Syria with 15.

A total of 27 countries were identified as imprisoning journalists, including Vietnam with 14, Azerbaijan with 9, Ethiopia with 6, Saudi Arabia with 4 and Uzbekistan with 4, among others

Urging Governments to Reexamine Cases

Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMFmade the following statement following the report: DCMF is alarmed by the number of journalists detained in prisons around the world, and condemns the use of draconion laws and charges related to terrorism which are too often used to silence dissenting voices in the media.

We urge all governments around the world to reexamine the cases of journalists currently under detention, and to release any media professionals who are being held as a result of the work they have carried out.

The right to be informed is a basic human right, which we at DCMF believe is essential to defending all other fundamental rights.  By imprisoning journalists and silencing critics, governments are violating this right to be informed as well as freedom of expression and media freedom.

*Sources: DCMF, CPJ. Go to Original.

Read also:

Safety of Journalists: Why Should You Care? — UNESCO

UN Mobilizes to Improve Safety for Journalists, Fight Impunity

2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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