Number of jailed journalists at all-time high

Photo: Press freedom protesters in Turkey, where 73 journalists are currently imprisoned on anti-state charges; courtesy CPJ

As 2017 draws to a close, around the world 42 media workers have been killed as a result of their work, 58 are missing and 262 are in jail, the Committee to Protect Journalists says.

The number of jailed journalists revealed by the organisation’s latest prison census is an all-time high, with jailings in Turkey, China and Egypt accounting for more than half the worldwide figure.

In its analysis of the data the CPJ condemns “a dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press,” singling out the United States for “cosying up to” leaders such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Xi Jinping.

“At the same time, President Donald Trump’s nationalistic rhetoric, fixation on Islamic extremism, and insistence on labelling critical media ‘fake news’ serves to reinforce the framework of accusations and legal charges that allow such leaders to preside over the jailing of journalists,” the report says.

Around three-quarters of the detained media workers are being held on anti-state charges, 73 of them in Turkey, where the media crackdown that began in early 2016 has “continued apace”, according to the report.

In China the number of jailed journalists rose from 38 in 2016 to 41, and the CPJ claims the government is guilty of issuing “a slow death sentence” to dissidents and journalists such as Liu Xiaobo and Yang Tongyan by “repeated denial of medical care”.

The report identifies at least eight journalists being held by Chinese authorities who are in serious need of medical attention.

In Southeast Asia two journalists were murdered in the Phillippines in 2017, and 17 are currently in prison in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

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