The number of journalists jailed marks a record high, while the number of those murdered has fallen to a 20-year low, according to the RSF

In 2021, 46 journalists were murdered around the world while practicing their profession, the lowest value in the last 20 years, as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced on Thursday, but they have made it clear that the number of reporters jailed is a historic record.

In its annual report, the organization indicated that in 2021 the number of arbitrarily detained journalists rose by 20 percent year-on-year to 488, including 60 women, while 65 are kidnapped and two are missing.

The number of journalists jailed marks a record high, while the number of those murdered has fallen to a 20-year low, according to the RSF
The number of journalists jailed marks a record high, while the number of those murdered has fallen to a 20-year low, according to the RSF

RSF stressed that the number of journalists hired had “never” been so high since the 1995 balance sheet was drawn up, a situation mainly attributed to the situation in Burma, where a military junta was set up after the coup. état of February 1st; Belarus, for the repression following the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko; and China, where control in Hong Kong would have been “strengthened”.

He has stated in detail that, with 127 journalists imprisoned, China is considered “the largest prison for journalists in the world” for the fifth year in a row. Behind is Burma at 53; Vietnam, at 43; Belarus at 32; and Saudi Arabia at 31.

In the case of China, he argued that while the number of journalists jailed in mainland China has decreased slightly, the rise in arrests in Hong Kong has resulted in a 2 percent increase in the number of journalists jailed across the country.

RSF has indicated that the Asian giant is also the country where most of the women are imprisoned, including the 2021 RSF award winner Zhang Zhan. With this in mind, he emphasized that never before had so many female journalists jailed for professional activity had been counted and pointed out that more women than men were jailed in Belarus, 17 out of 15 each, including Daria Tchoultsova and Katsiarina Andreyeva.

For her part, nine women are imprisoned in Burma, including Ma Zuzar, who is isolated from Insein prison and who was responsible for reporting on the demonstrations that broke out against the junta after the riots in February.

Four women are also imprisoned in Vietnam, including Pham Doan Trang, who received the RSF Impact Award in 2019 after being convicted of “propaganda against the state”. In Iran, journalist and activist Narges Mohamadi, who had already spent eight years in prison, returned to prison in November, bringing the number of journalists detained in the country to three.

RSF has also gathered the situation of journalists such as the Chinese Jimmi Lai, who served 74 years in prison after being convicted of participating in “illicit” protests; Dawit Issak, who together with Seyoum Tsehaye and Temesgen-Gebreyesus spent more than 20 years in prison in Eritrea; and Ali Abuluhum and Pham Chi Dung, who were sentenced to 15 years in prison in Saudi Arabia and Vietnam respectively, the harshest sentences in 2021.

The organization also recalled the case of journalist Raman Protasevich, arrested in May after the Belarusian authorities diverted a passenger flight to Minsk, and Julian Assange, who faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years in prison if definitively extradited to the United States of Great Britain .

“This extremely high number of arbitrarily detained journalists comes from three dictatorial regimes,” said RSF General Secretary Christophe Deloire. “It is a reflection of the dictatorial impulse in the world, an accumulation of crises and the ruthlessness of these regimes,” he argued.

“Perhaps they are also the result of a new geopolitical framework of power relations in which authoritarian regimes do not suffer enough pressure to curb their repression,” said Deloire, according to the report published by RSF on its website.

In contrast, the number of journalists killed fell below 50 for the first time since 2003, which the organization attributes to “the low intensity of armed conflict” and “the mobilization of organizations to defend press freedom as RSF to establish” national and international safeguards “.

However, RSF has pointed out that this figure implies that nearly one journalist worldwide is murdered every week for his profession, and recalls that the murdered journalists were deliberately singled out based on his data.

With that in mind, he’s hinted that Mexico, at seven, is the country in the world where the most journalists were murdered last year, followed by Afghanistan at six. It is followed by India and Yemen, with four journalists killed in each of these countries.

According to the RSF, 30 of them, 65 percent, were deliberately murdered for being journalists, while the other 16 were murdered in the exercise of their duties. Of these, 42 were men and four were women, while 18 were killed in the conflict zone and 28 in the peace zone.

Among the journalists killed this year are the three Afghan media collaborators Shahnaz Rufi, Saadia Sadat and Mursal Vahidi, who were killed in two attacks alleged by the Islamic State jihadist group. The fourth woman to be killed is Rasha Abdullah al Harazi, who was killed in a limpet bombing in Aden.

The agency has also highlighted that three out of five journalists have been killed in countries that are not officially at war, and even the European Union (EU), which is believed to be the safest area in the world to practice journalism, has been hit.

For example, the journalist from the Greek star TV chain Giorgios Karaivaz, who investigated corruption within the police, and the Dutch journalist and witness advisor in criminal matters Peter de Vries were murdered in the deadliest year in Europe since 2015 when the attack on the editorial team by ‘Charlie Hebdo’ took place.

Journalists killed in conflict areas include Spaniards David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, who were killed during a documentary about poaching in eastern Burkina Faso, and Indian photographer Danish Siddiqui, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 and at a Taliban attack in Afghanistan died.

RSF recalled that for the third year in a row, Mexico rejoined its position as the most dangerous country in the world for the press, lamenting “almost total impunity for the lack of ambitious reforms” to face the situation and “the spiral of violence” . that “never seems to be able to stop.”

On the other hand, he said, ten countries are responsible for three quarters of those killed, especially Mexico and Afghanistan with 47 each. Syria is behind with 42; Yemen and India at 18; Iraq, at 17; Pakistan, at 16; The Philippines at 15; Somalia at thirteen; and Colombia at nine. In the other countries, 77 journalists were murdered during this period.

The number of abductees has risen by three percent to 65 since 2020 – 60 locals and five foreigners – above all Syria with 44. Iraq follows with eleven; Yemen at nine and Mali, where Olivier Dubois was kidnapped this year.

The Islamic State is the main culprit at 28 for these kidnappings, which is more than 40 percent globally. Finally, two journalists are still missing: Jorge Moltzin Centlal and Pablo Felipe Romero, both from the Mexican state of Sonora.

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