Jailing of journalists hits record high in 2017 – Report

File photo. Some Ghanaian journalists

The number of journalists imprisoned across the globe for their work has hit a record high in 2017, the annual prison census report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has revealed.

A total of 262 journalists were put behind prison bars globally in 2017 as against last year’s historical record of 259.

It said nearly three-quarters of journalists are jailed on anti-state charges, many under broad and vague terror laws, while the number imprisoned on a charge of “false news,” though modest, rose to a record 21.

The report revealed that for the second consecutive time, more than half of the journalists jailed in 2017 are being held in prisons in Turkey, China and Egypt.

It cited the U.S. and other Western powers as having failed to pressure the three countries, which it the report described as the “world’s worst jailers”, into improving the bleak climate for press freedom.“The pattern reflects a dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press,” it highlighted.

It accused the US of cozying up to “strongmen such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chinese President Xi Jinping”.

President Donald Trump’s nationalistic rhetoric, fixation on Islamic extremism, and insistence on labeling critical media “fake news” serves to reinforce the framework of accusations and legal charges that allow such leaders to preside over the jailing of journalists, the report indicated.

Turkey, according to the report which was released Wednesday, remained the world’s worst jailer for the second consecutive year, with 73 journalists in 2017, compared with 81 last year.Despite Turkey releasing some journalists in 2017, it said “dozens more still face trial, and fresh arrests take place regularly. In several other cases in Turkey, CPJ was unable to establish a link to journalism.

The worst three jailers are responsible for jailing 134–or 51 percent–of the total, the report said.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah||Ghana

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