New York [US], December 10 (ANI): As many as 293 media workers were put behind bars globally in 2021, said the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
"CPJ's 2021 prison census found that the number of reporters jailed for their work hit a new global record of 293, up from a revised total of 280 in 2020," CPJ said in its report.
At least 24 journalists were killed because of their coverage so far this year; 18 others died in circumstances too murky to determine whether they were specific targets.
China remains the world's worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row, with 50 behind bars. Myanmar soared to the second slot with 26 jailed media workers after the crackdown that followed its February 1 military coup. Egypt (25), Vietnam (23), and Belarus (19), respectively, rounded out the top five.
According to the report, the reasons for the relentless climb in the numbers of detained journalists - this is the sixth consecutive year that CPJ's census has recorded at least 250 incarcerated - differ between countries. "But all reflect a stark trend: a growing intolerance of independent reporting. Emboldened autocrats are increasingly ignoring due process and flouting international norms to keep themselves in power," the CPJ report said.
China's relentless incarceration of journalists is not new. However, this is the first time journalists held in Hong Kong are found on CPJ's annual census - a result of the implementation of the draconian 2020 National Security Law imposed in response to the city's historic pro-democracy protests.
Eight Hong Kong media figures, including Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily and Next Digital and CPJ's 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Awardee, were jailed in a stark blow to the city's already embattled independent press.
On mainland China, freelance video journalist Zhang Zhan, arrested in May 2020 for her critical coverage of China's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is serving four years for "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" - a charge often used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. (ANI)