As many as 363 journalists are serving imprisonment across the globe as of December 1, 2022, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) annual prison census. CPJ is a non-profit organisation that stands for press freedom and the rights of journalists. across the globe This year’s number overtakes last year’s record by 20 per cent and “marks another grim milestone in a deteriorating media landscape”, CPJ noted.
Iran, China, Myanmar, Turkey, and Belarus top the chart of countries that try to maim journalists by sending them to prisons. According to the CPJ, the year 2022 was marked by conflict and repression and authoritarian leaders doubled down on their criminalization of independent reporting, deploying increasing cruelty to stifle dissenting voices and undermine press freedom.
The recent protests sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in Iran saw nearly 14,000 being jailed, and several of them were media persons. Iran’s regime imprisoned a record number of female journalists – 22 out of the 49 journalists arrested since the start of the protests. In China, several journalists are reported to have been detained while covering the demonstrations against the government’s zero-COVID lockdown policies.
CPJ’s census also highlighted the ongoing repression of journalists from minorities. In Iran, for instance, Kurds are facing the wrath of the government’s retaliation against the protests, the report noted. At least nine Kurdish journalists are in jail. In Turkey, authorities arrested 25 Kurdish journalists working either for the Mezopotamya News Agency, the all-female JINNEWS outlet, or production companies that made content used by Kurdish outlets in Europe. In Iraq, all three journalists jailed in 2022 were from Iraqi Kurdistan. In China, several jailed journalists are ethnic Uighurs from Xinjiang.
India continues to remain at a record high for the second consecutive year since CPJ began its prison census in 1992. The country has seven journalists in jail. According to CPJ, India continues to draw criticism over its treatment of the media, in particular its use of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, a preventive detention law, to keep Kashmiri journalists Aasif Sultan, Fahad Shah, and Sajad Gul behind bars after they were granted court-ordered bail in separate cases. CPJ noted that six out of seven journalists are being investigated under the terrorism-related Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The report can be accessed here.
Click here to access the databse of all journalists imprisoned in 2022