According to Reporter Without Borders’ (RSF) annual round-up published recently, a record number of journalists – 488, including 60 women – are currently detained worldwide, while another 65 are being held hostage.
The number of journalists detained in connection with their work has never been this high since RSF began publishing its annual round-up in 1995, the group said.
The global body logged a total of 488 journalists and media workers in prison in mid-December 2021 or 20% more than at the same time last year.
This exceptional surge in arbitrary detention is due, above all, to three countries – Myanmar, where the military retook power in a coup on 1 February 2021, Belarus, which has seen a major crackdown since Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed reelection in August 2020, and China, which is tightening its grip on Hong Kong, the special administrative region once seen as a regional model of respect for press freedom.
“The extremely high number of journalists in arbitrary detention is the work of three dictatorial regimes,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
China, the world’s biggest jailer of journalists for the fifth year running, is also the biggest jailer of female journalists, with 19 currently detained, according to the annual round-up.
The journalist body further said it has never previously registered so many female journalists in prison, with a total of 60 currently detained in connection with their work – a third (33%) more than at this time last year.
Meanwhile, the number of journalists killed in 2021 – 46 – is at its lowest in 20 years, according to RSF.
Since 1995, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been compiling annual round-ups of violence and abuses against journalists based on precise data gathered from 1 January to 1 December of the year in question.