Led by China, Egypt, 199 Journalists Now in Prison

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CPJ Prison 2015

The Committee to Protect Journalists is out with its annual census of journalists in prison, and, as always, the report makes for grim reading. Check it out, anyway — it’s important our community knows what’s happening to our colleagues around the world. Here’s the quick and dirty:

  • Globally, CPJ found 199 journalists in prison because of their work on December 1, 2015, a modest decline from record highs of the past three years. (There were 221 in 2014.) CPJ’s list does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year.
  • China is holding 49 journalists behind bars, the highest number ever recorded there, making it the worst jailer of journalists worldwide for the second year in a row.
  • The number of journalists jailed in Egypt and Turkey also rose dramatically in 2015. Perhaps nowhere has the climate for the press deteriorated more rapidly than in Egypt, now the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide.
  • Rounding out the top 10 worst jailers of journalists in 2015 are Iran, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Vietnam.
  • A bit of good news: For the second year since CPJ began compiling surveys of imprisoned journalists in 1990, not a single journalist in the Americas was imprisoned in relation to work on December 1.
  • Iran, Vietnam, and Ethiopia were among those countries holding fewer journalists prisoner, but in all three countries a climate of fear for the media persists, with many of those released continuing to face legal charges or harsh restrictions, including forced exile­.
  • Of those imprisoned, more than half worked online. Freelancers made up less than one third, a percentage that has declined steadily since 2011.
  • The most common charges used to put journalists in jail: anti-state activity.
  • CPJ’s prison census does not include journalists who disappear or are abducted by non-state entities such as criminal gangs or militant groups. Their cases are classified as “missing” or “abducted.” At least 40 journalists are missing in the Middle East and North Africa, many believed to be held by militant groups including the Islamic State.

Read the full report on CPJ’s website. Detailed accounts of each journalist can be found here.

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