The Committee to Protect Journalists, an advocacy group, has released its annual census
showing the number of journalists imprisoned across the world. More than 250 journalists are behind bars for the fourth consecutive year and the CPJ said that an authoritarian approach to critical news coverage is more than just a temporary spike. As of December 2019, China is the worst jailer with 48 journalists identified as being in prison there. Turkey came second with 47 while Egypt and Saudi Arabia were tied in third with 26 each.
China and Turkey have consistently vied for the unenviable title of the word's worst jailer of journalists and for the first time in four years, the latter is not in first place. In line with President Xi Jinping consolidating his control over the country and implementing tighter controls on the media, China has continued to imprison members of the media and it has moved into first. Arrests of journalists have been notable amid a Muslim crackdown in Xinjiang province and some of those have been incarcerated for journalism activity carried out years earlier.
comes a close second for imprisonments with its total falling from 68 last year to 47 today. That decline is not as positive as it seems and does not represent an improvement in the fortunes of Turkish media. Rather, it reflects successful efforts by President Erdoğan to clamp down on independent reporting and criticism by closing down over 100 news outlets. Dozens of journalists that are not currently in jail in Turkey are still facing trial or appeal and could yet be sentenced while others who have been sentenced in absentia could face lengthy stints behind bars upon their return to the country.
attitude towards critical journalism hardly needs an introduction after the barbaric murder of Jamal Khashoggi. As of December 2019, 26 journalists are in prison in the kingdom and no charges have been disclosed in 18 cases. 98 percent of all journalists currently behind bars are locals reporting on domestic issues. Three of the four journalists holding foreign citizenship are incarcerated in Saudi Arabia while the fourth is in jail in China. Most of the journalists are facing anti-state charges while the number charged with "false news" has gone up from 28 last year to 30 this year.