Unprecedented rise in the number of detained journalists in 2021

A man holds up his fists with Free Press written in black marker across them. (Photo: Archive)
A man holds up his fists with Free Press written in black marker across them. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reported that since January 2021, 46 journalists had been killed and 488 others arrested around the world. It also reported that the number of imprisoned journalists is at an all-time high since first publishing its annual round-up in 1995.

RSF announced that there are 488 media workers currently imprisoned in the world, a record number. It also reported that 46 journalists were killed in 2021, the lowest death toll in 20 years.

The organization pointed out that this exceptional increase of 20 percent in one year was caused mainly by three countries: "Myanmar, where the military retook power in a coup on 1 February 2021, Belarus, which has seen a major crackdown since Alexander Lukashenko's disputed reelection in August 2020, and Xi Jinping's China, which is tightening its grip on Hong Kong, the special administrative region once seen as a regional model of respect for press freedom."

RSF also indicated that "it never previously registered so many female journalists in prison, with a total of 60 currently detained in connection with their work – a third (33 percent) more than at this time last year."

While men represent most of the number of imprisoned journalists globally, 87.7 percent, "Belarus is currently holding more female journalists 17 than male 15.

"You have to go back to 2003 to find another year with fewer than 50 journalists killed," the report added.

This year's fall is primarily due to a decline in the intensity of conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and to campaigning by press freedom organizations, including RSF, for the implementation of international and national mechanisms aimed at protecting journalists.

The report also added that most of those killed were assassinated.

"65% of the dead are deliberately targeted and disposed of," it said.