China is world’s leading jailor of journalists: CPJ census

China, the world’s largest prison for journalists in 2019. Image: Shutterstock.

DHARAMSALA, 11 Dec: With at least 48 journalists in prison, China is the world’s leading jailer of journalists in 2019, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’(CPJ) 2019 annual prison census.

China having frequently vied with Turkey for the ignominious title of the world’s worst jailer has dethroned Turkey this year, CPJ said in its report.

“The number of journalists imprisoned globally for their work in 2019 remained near record highs, as China tightened its iron grip on the press and Turkey, having stamped out virtually all independent reporting, released journalists awaiting trial or appeal,”  the  New York-based advocacy group CPJ said in its annual report released today.

In its annual global survey, the CPJ has said it found at least 250 journalists in jail in relation to their work, compared with an adjusted 255 a year earlier

“For the fourth consecutive year, at least 250 journalists are imprisoned globally as authoritarians like Xi Jinping, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mohammed bin Salman, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi show no signs of letting up on the critical media,” the report read.

The committee has further stated in the report that the number has steadily increased as President Xi Jinping consolidated political control of the country and instituted ever tighter controls on the media.

“In one recent Chinese case, Sophia Huang Xueqin, a freelancer who formerly worked as an investigative reporter at Chinese outlets, was arrested in October shortly after describing on her blog what it was like to march with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong,” the report said.

“She faces charges of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble,’ a common anti-state allegation levied against critics whom the ruling Chinese Communist Party view as a threat,” it added.

A crackdown in Xinjiang province — where a million members of Muslim ethnic groups have been sent to internment camps — has led to the arrests of dozens of journalists, including some apparently jailed for journalistic activity years earlier

For nearly two decades, China was among the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

Since 1992 when the CPJ started releasing its annual prison census, China has imprisoned at least 952 journalists, the highest number globally.

According to CPJ, at least  1773 journalist was imprisoned globally between 1992-2019.

The census also found that 98% of journalists jailed worldwide are locals covering their own country with politics as the beat most likely to land journalists in jail, followed by human rights and corruption.

CPJ has stated that journalists should not be imprisoned for doing their jobs. The advocacy group has helped to secure the early release of at least 80 imprisoned journalists worldwide in the past year.

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