Freedom of the press regresses in the world with 488 jailed journalists

  • The NGO RSF reports in its annual report a record number of journalists deprived of liberty in more than 25 years

The situation of Press freedom gets worse in the world. This is extracted from the annual report of the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and released this Thursday, which denounces that at the end of 2021 a total of 488 journalists are imprisoned, which constitutes a 20% increase in a year and a record since the organization began to make this balance, in 1995. That is why in light of these figures, RSF is raising a voice of alarm about “an increasingly relentless crackdown on independent journalism“, precisely in the year that journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitri Muratov have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in defense of freedom of expression ..

China, with 127 journalists imprisoned, is still the largest prison for journalists in the world, followed by Burma, with 53, where the situation has deteriorated since the last February coup that returned the Military meeting. After Vietnam, with 43 imprisoned journalists, it bursts onto the list Belarus, with 32 informants behind bars due to the repressive wave unleashed by President Aleksandr Lukashenko, which curiously has more female journalists imprisoned (17) than men (15). In this sense, the report highlights the case of journalists Daria Tchoultsova and Katisarina Andreyeva, held for two years in a penal colony, accused of “seriously violating public order” for broadcasting live an unauthorized anti-government demonstration.

Researcher in Wuhan

Among the 488 jailed journalists, there are 60 women, also a record figure. It is precisely a woman, the Chinese journalist Zhang Zahn, for whose life RSF most fears. Imprisoned on charges of spreading false information for investigating the covid epidemic in Wuhan, she is in partial hunger strike and according to the information gathered, it weighs only 40 kilos and can barely move.

RSF’s annual report shows another significant figure on the number of journalists killed in 2021: 46, the fewest since 2003, which RSF attributes in part to the lower intensity of very deadly conflicts such as Iraq, Syria or Yemen, to the pandemic and to the lesser journalistic coverage of these and other fronts such as Libya or the Sahel. Despite everything, the NGO remembers that every week a journalist is murdered in the world and that three out of every five journalists have been assassinated in countries that do not suffer from armed conflicts.

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Mexico, with seven murders this year, tops this black list of the most dangerous country in the world for the press. Of the 46 murdered this year in addition, 30 were so deliberately after being previously identified and the other 16 in the exercise of their profession. This last section includes the names of Spanish reporters David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, killed in an ambush in Burkina Faso. Also noteworthy are the murders of two journalists on European soil, Giorgos Kairavaz in Greece and Peter de Vries in the Netherlands, for their investigations into organized crime.

Another 65 journalists remain kidnapped, concentrated in three Middle Eastern countries: Syria (44), Iraq (11) and Yemen (9). Only one of them is kidnapped in Mali. The Islamic State terrorist group is the group holding the largest number of informants hostage: 28 in Syria and Iraq. American Austin Rice is the journalist who has been kidnapped the longest: almost 10 years in Syria.

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Freedom of the press regresses in the world with 488 jailed journalists