By Aaron Kesel
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has declared the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide has hit a new record at a total of 262 journalists behind bars around the world. Unsurprisingly, out of those being held, just under three-quarters are being accused of anti-government activities, many of which were arrested under “broad and vague terror laws” in their respective countries.
The 10 worst jailers of journalists in 2017:
Saudi Arabia 7
Bahrain 6 pic.twitter.com/wycwwwWVCi
— CPJ (@pressfreedom) December 13, 2017
The group stated these arrests reflect the overall climate of the situation in what they called a “dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press.”
With an astronomical 51 percent or 134 of the total arrested being in just three countries – China, Egypt and Turkey.
In the annual survey, the CPJ further found that out of those journalists jailed in government custody on December 1st, 73 journalists were imprisoned in regards to their work within Turkey with the Turkish regime remaining the worst jailer of journalists by far for 2 years straight. After Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cracked down on journalism over the past summer arresting and charging more than 100 journalists he accused of being a part of the 2016 Turkish coup attempt and with various other crimes.
Forty eight of the news writers arrested in Turkey recently faced trials appearing in October as part of the country’s ongoing media crackdown, according to press freedom advocates Reporters Without Borders.
One hundred ninety four journalists, or 74 percent, are imprisoned on anti-state charges according to the CPJ.
Subsequently, the numbers also rose to a record of 21 for those that were imprisoned accused of fabricating the news.
The evaluation did not include journalists who were imprisoned and released throughout the year or those who have disappeared or are held captive by non-state groups such as ISIS.
The release also mentions that the United States and other Western powers failed to pressure the three countries’ leaderships into improving the “bleak climate” for press freedom that has transpired under the era of Trump and his coined phrase “fake news.”
Repression of the press in authoritarian, US-allied states was in large part sanctioned by U.S. President Donald Trump’s own “nationalistic rhetoric, fixation on Islamic extremism, and insistence on labeling critical media ‘fake news,’ according to the watchdog which noted Trump has done nothing to address the human rights violations.
“Far from isolating repressive countries for their authoritarian behavior, the United States, in particular, has cozied up to strongmen such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping,” the group says.
In China, the number of journalists behind bars rose to 41 from 38 a year earlier. By comparison, Egypt’s number in jail fell to 20 from 25 last year.
The top jailers of journalists also include Azerbaijan, where 10 of them were found behind bars.
There were five journalists incarcerated in both Iran and Russia, four in Uzbekistan, and two in both Kazakhstan and Pakistan. While the CPJ census shows that there is one imprisoned journalists in Ukraine, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Other countries include – Algeria, Bahrain, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Iraq, India, Morocco, Niger, Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Uganda, Eritrea , Syria, Vietnam and Yemen.
Globally, nearly three-quarters of journalists are jailed on anti-state charges, many under “broad and vague terror laws,” the media watchdog said.
Meanwhile, 35 journalists worldwide were jailed without any publicly disclosed charge for why they are incarcerated; a worrying trend to stifle and silence dangerous free speech and critical investigations into government wrongdoing.
This number is an increase from last year’s historic high of 259 imprisoned journalists.