Sarphan Uzunoğlu
Dec 16 2017

CPJ Report: Record number of journalists jailed in 2017 with Turkey, China on top

The number of journalists jailed worldwide hit another new record in 2017, the Committee to Protect Journalists said, and for the second consecutive year more than half of them are in Turkey, China, and Egypt.

Map from Journalists Imprisoned In 2017, Committee to Protect Journalists.
Map from Journalists Imprisoned In 2017, Committee to Protect Journalists.

According to CPJ statistics, despite releasing some journalists in 2017, Turkey remains the world’s worst jailer for the second consecutive year, with 73 journalists behind bars, compared with 81 in 2016. This number is subject to debate in Turkey due to the ways different media classify journalists and because the definition of journalism is no longer clear. The numbers are, of course, much higher than state authorities have said.

It is easy to see from the map that imprisoned journalists are concentrated on specific geographies and countries, and it is shameful to see Turkey at the centre of relatively large red circle. Turkey is also one of the few countries to have imprisoned foreign journalists, along with Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Venezuela and Russia.

According to the statistics, Turkey has 10 women journalists in jail, the largest number in the world, followed by China and Vietnam.

The report said journalists working for online media outlets are also at risk. States appear to have understood the importance of delivering the truth through new media channels. It is also possible to see a co-relation between the lack of Internet freedom and the number of journalists in prison. Considering the important role of citizen journalism and blogging, the arrests of journalists sends a message to others who might speak out on social media or on digital news outlets.

Women Journalists Imprisoned In 2017, Committee to Protect Journalists
Women Journalists Imprisoned In 2017, Committee to Protect Journalists

Internationally, 13 journalists were murdered in 2017, the CPJ said, five of them in Mexico, and 16 were killed in crossfire, many of them in conflicts in the Middle East. Predictably, Syria and Iraq top the list.

The number of freelancers killed is also striking. One of the least financially stable groups of journalists, freelancers are at particular risk when assigned to report on dangerous news stories where they often lack legal or practical protection, and where many are not fully aware of the perils of working in conflict zones.

To conclude, some of the key findings of CPJ report are as follows: Ninety-seven percent of jailed journalists are local. Of the total imprisoned worldwide, 22 of them are female journalists. Freelancers account for 29 percent of the total number and politics is by far the most dangerous beat, covered by 87 percent of those jailed. Let us hope the statistics will be better in 2018.