NewsReporters Without Borders: Never so many journalists imprisoned

Reporters Without Borders: Never so many journalists imprisoned

The year 2021 is a gruesome time for freedom of the press. The number of reporters in prisons has risen dramatically recently. There are essentially three governments responsible for this.

Berlin – The organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has never counted as many imprisoned journalists worldwide as this year. The governments in Belarus, Myanmar and China are mainly responsible for the increase.

As of December 1, a total of 488 media workers were in jail just for doing their job, according to the RSF. That is an increase of 20 percent compared to the previous year, as the reporter organization writes in its annual balance sheet for freedom of the press on Thursday. 428 men and 60 women from the media industry are locked up.

Myanmar, Belarus and China in focus

“This extraordinary increase in arbitrary detentions is mainly due to three countries whose governments are indifferent to the desire of their citizens for democracy,” the authors of the study write. In Myanmar, where the military regained power through a coup on February 1, 2021, 53 journalists are currently in prison. A year ago it was 2.

In Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko achieved his controversial re-election in August 2020, 32 journalists are now behind bars, compared to 7 a year ago. China’s increasing control over Hong Kong has also exacerbated the situation: there, the national security law has been used as a pretext for the detention of at least 10 journalists. Before that, Hong Kong had been a regional role model for respecting press freedom due to its special status.

Many women among prisoners

According to the RSF, the proportion of women among the imprisoned media workers has almost doubled since 2017. At that time it was still around 6.6 percent, it is now 12.30 percent. Overall, since the beginning of the RSF count, so many women have never been locked up for journalistic work. Belarus even has more female than male media people in its prisons: 15 men, 17 women.

The highest number of detainees arrested for press work is in China with 127. It is followed by Myanmar with 53, Vietnam with 43, Belarus with 32 and Saudi Arabia with 31. Reporters Without Borders singled out a few cases as particularly worrying. Among them is the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who faces up to 175 years imprisonment if he is extradited to the USA. dpa