RSF: A disturbing new record for the number of journalists detained

While the number of journalists imprisoned had already reached a historic record in 2021, the figures have continued to rise this year to reach 533 journalists imprisoned for practicing their profession, according to the annual report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published on Wednesday. A worrying increase.

RSF’s report thus revealed that a total of 533 journalists were detained, of whom 78 were women, i.e. 13.4% more than last year, in addition to 65 hostages, 57 journalists killed and 49 missing, in 2022 alone. This is an unprecedented record, “a historic increase”, declared the authors of the document made public on Wednesday, December 14, who underline that barely more than a third of the journalists detained have made the subject of a conviction. The others (63.6%) are in detention without having been tried.

More than half of journalists are detained in just five countries, in this case China, “where censorship and surveillance have reached extreme levels, remains the largest prison for journalists in the world with 110 journalists incarcerated, followed by Burma detaining 62 journalists, Iran with 47 detainees, “also a sign of major repressionVietnam 39 and Belarus 31. Iran, which has become the world’s third largest prison for journalists, is the only country that was not part of this “gloomy list” last year. the organization for the defense of freedom of the press, which has kept this annual report since 1995.

That said, around 45% of journalists are detained in Asia and more than 30% in the Maghreb and the Middle East. Repression has also increased sharply in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It should be noted that the 533 imprisoned journalists are divided into three categories: professional journalists (432), non-professional journalists (83) and media workers (18).

For Christophe Deloire,general secretary of RSF, “dictatorial and authoritarian regimes are filling up their prisons more quickly by imprisoning journalists. This new record for the number of journalists detained confirms the imperious and urgent need to resist these unscrupulous powers and to exercise our active solidarity with all those who promote the ideal of freedom, independence and pluralism of information. “.

Notably on the rise, the number of journalists killed increased to 57 people, including 50 men and 7 women who “paid with their lives for their commitment to inform in 2022“, a growth of 18.8% compared to 2021. The document underlines that the outbreak of the war in Ukraine is one of the major reasons contributing to this increase, where, during the first six months, 8 journalists were killed . The number of journalists killed in conflict zones now represents nearly 35% of those killed, compared to 32% last year.

The report reveals that more than 6 out of 10 journalists (64.9%) lost their lives in countries considered to be at peace in 2022. This increase is justified, in part, by the lifting of travel restrictions relating to the Covid pandemic -19 and by the fact that the journalists left in large numbers, on the reporting grounds. Mexico alone has recorded 11 journalists murdered, around 20% of the total number, noting that women are not exempt from this fatal fate either. In 2022, they represent more than 12% of deaths.

The authors recalled that Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, Haiti, Brazil and Mexico are considered the most dangerous countries, specifying that more than half of the journalists murdered were killed this year in America .

As for the hostages, at least 65 journalists and media collaborators are currently being held captive around the world. However, this number remains stable compared to the past year, the balance sheet indicated and is concentrated in three countries in the Middle East. The main hostage takers are the so-called “Islamic State Group” (28), the groups “Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, Turkish-backed forces, Kurdish autonomous authorities, JNIM…” with 14 hostages, the “Houthis” with 10 journalists in captivity, the “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Group” holding 8 journalists and the “Undetermined Armed Groups” which have 5 journalists hostage.

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