PARIS: The number of journalists detained worldwide rose in 2016, an increase related to Turkey where more than 100 journalists and media contributors are in jail, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday.
“A total of 348 journalists are currently detained worldwide — six percent more than were detained at this time last year,” RSF said in its annual report. The figure includes bloggers and freelance contributors.
“The number of detained professional journalists in Turkey has risen 22 percent after quadrupling in the wake of the failed coup d’etat in July,” it said.
The number of women journalists imprisoned more than quadrupled over the period (from five to 21).
“This reflects in part the growing role of women in journalism but above all the disastrous situation in Turkey, which currently accounts for a third of the world’s detained women journalists,” RSF said.
“The persecution of journalists around the world is growing at a shocking rate,” RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.
“At the gateway to Europe, an all-out witch-hunt has jailed dozens of journalists and has turned Turkey into the world’s biggest prison for the media profession. In the space of a year, the Erdogan regime has crushed all media pluralism while the European Union has said virtually nothing,” he added.
Aside from Turkey, between them China, Iran and Egypt account for more than two-thirds of journalists imprisoned, RSF said, calling for the creation of a special representative for the safety of journalists directly attached to the office of the United Nations secretary general.
The number of journalists held hostage has however fallen this year, with 52, mostly locals, held around the world compared with 61 last year, although RSF said the 2015 number was particularly high.
This year all the hostages are in the Middle East — Syria, Yemen and Iraq — with 21 held by the Islamic State group alone.
RSF said it had identified just one missing journalist in 2016, Burundian Jean Bigirimana, compared with eight last year.
The group considers journalists missing when there is insufficient evidence of their death or kidnapping and no credible claim of responsibility for their death or abduction.
In a separate report released on Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that 259 journalists were imprisoned around the world in 2016, 81 of them in Turkey.
Its number is lower because the CPJ only counts journalists detained by the state, while RSF also reports on those held hostage by non-state groups.
The CPJ said the top five countries for jailing journalists are Turkey, followed by China, Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
For the first time since 2008 Iran does not appear in the top five.