With 488 journalists detained around the world, “RSF has never recorded such a high number of imprisoned journalists”, deplores the NGO in its annual report, noting however that the number of journalists killed (46) in 2021 has reached its level. the lowest in 20 years.
Such a number of detainees marks a first since the creation of the annual report of Reporters Without Borders in 1995, underlines the NGO. This exceptional increase, of around 20% in one year (from 1is January to 1is December 2021), “is mainly the work of three countries”: Myanmar, Belarus and China, whose national security law imposed in 2020 in Hong Kong has caused a sharp increase in the detentions of journalists in this territory, indicates RSF.
But also in the region of Xinjiang, “where a million Uighurs are in detention in camps and are in particular because it has become a kind of black hole of information”, denounces to AFP Christophe Deloire, secretary general of RSF, specifying that 70 Uighur journalists were imprisoned.
The five countries where the largest number of journalists were detained in the 1is December are China (127), Myanmar (53), Vietnam (43), Belarus (32) and Saudi Arabia (31).
“Never, either, has RSF counted so many female journalists detained”, in total 60, a third more than in 2020, deplores the association.
While men still represent the majority of jailed journalists around the world (87.7%), Belarus has locked up more female journalists (17) than male colleagues (15).
The regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, which relentlessly pursues a crackdown on any opponent, provoked an international outcry at the end of May after the arrest of exiled opposition journalist Roman Protassevich by confusing an airliner on board which he was found.
Mutating conflicts and pandemic
RSF, however, points to a positive trend: the number of journalists and media professionals killed has reached its lowest level in 20 years. “This downward trend, which has been accentuated since 2016, can be explained in particular by the development of regional conflicts (Syria, Iraq and Yemen) and the stabilization of the fronts after 2012 and 2016, which were particularly deadly”, analyzes the body.
For Christophe Deloire, COVID-19 has also limited “the outings of journalists and therefore the times when they [courent des] risks ”. On the other hand, “perhaps a form of self-censorship” has led journalists to “go less into dangerous territories”.
Nevertheless, “65% of those killed are knowingly targeted and eliminated”, denounces RSF. Mexico and Afghanistan remain the two most dangerous countries for journalists this year, with seven and six respectively killed, followed by Yemen and India in third place, with four journalists killed each.
RSF also counts at least 65 journalists and media workers held hostage around the world, two more than last year. “All are hostages in three countries of the Middle East: Syria (44 journalists), Iraq (11) and Yemen (9)”, except the French journalist Olivier Dubois, detained since April in Mali, details RSF.