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Number of journalists behind bars reaches global high

PHOTO: News18

The number of journalists jailed around the world set another record in 2021. Invoking new tech and security laws, repressive regimes from Asia to Europe to Africa cracked down harshly on the independent press.

By Editorial Director Arlene Getz | 9 December 2021

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS — It’s been an especially bleak year for defenders of press freedom. CPJ’s 2021 prison census found that the number of reporters jailed for their work hit a new global record of 293, up from a revised total of 280 in 2020. At least 24 journalists were killed because of their coverage so far this year; 18 others died in circumstances too murky to determine whether they were specific targets.

China remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row, with 50 behind bars. Myanmar soared to the second slot after the media crackdown that followed its February 1 military coup. Egypt, Vietnam, and Belarus, respectively, rounded out the top five.

The reasons for the relentless climb in the numbers of detained journalists – this is the sixth consecutive year that CPJ’s census has recorded at least 250 incarcerated – differ between countries. But all reflect a stark trend: a growing intolerance of independent reporting. Emboldened autocrats are increasingly ignoring due process and flouting international norms to keep themselves in power. In a world preoccupied with COVID-19 and trying to prioritize issues like climate change, repressive governments are clearly aware that public outrage at human rights abuses is blunted and democratic governments have less appetite for political or economic retaliation. […]

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