The Committee to Protect Journalists, an advocacy group, has released its annual census showing the number of journalists imprisoned across the world. More than 250 journalists are behind bars for the third consecutive year and the CPJ said that an authoritarian approach to critical news coverage is more than just a temporary spike. As of December 1st, 2018, Turkey was the worst jailer with 68 journalists identified as being in prison there. China came second with 47 while Egypt was in third place with 25.
Collectively, Turkey, China and Egypt are responsible for more than half of all jailed journalists for worldwide for the third year in a succession. CPJ said that those countries (and others such as Saudi Arabia) are experiencing a wave of repression which has resulted in a crackdown on press freedom. The vast majority of imprisoned journalists are facing anti-state charges such as belonging to or aiding groups deemed by authorities as being terrorist organizations. Others are in jail on false news charges, particularly in Egypt with 19 in total.
The issue was brought into the spotlight this week with the one-year anniversary of the detention of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar. Among a group of journalists named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine, they are serving seven-year sentences for reporting on a massacre of Rohingya by the country’s military. The issue has resulted in heightened criticism of Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. On Wednesday, journalists, activists ans rights groups rallied in Yangon and called for the immediate release of the imprisoned journalists.