India has jailed seven journalists in the past year, while five journalists were reported killed because of their work
New York: As per the latest ‘Prison Census’ by New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 293 journalists were jailed worldwide in 2021, a new record compared to a revised total of 280 in 2020. The census also notes that at least 24 were reported as "murdered," while 18 others died in “circumstances too murky to determine whether they were specific targets”.
Of this tally, India has jailed seven journalists in the past year, while five journalists were reported killed because of their work. A key finding in the report states that “India has the highest number of journalists – four – confirmed to have been murdered in retaliation for their work. A fifth was killed while covering a protest.”
The five killings included:
The seven journalists who have been imprisoned are Aasif Sultan of Kashmir Narrator, Tanveer Warsi of Prabhat Sanket, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Manan Dar, Rajeev Sharma and Siddique Kappan.
According to the methodology of the report, the census “accounts only for journalists in government custody and does not include those who have disappeared or are held captive by non-State actors”. It also does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year.
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.
To draw out a ranking ‘hierarchy’ in the report, China remains the world's worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row (50 journalists), with Myanmar soaring to the second slot (26 media workers) after its recent military coup this year. Egypt (25), Vietnam (23), and Belarus (19), respectively, came at the next three slots.
Forty of the 293 detained journalists – less than 14% – are women, and at least 17 jailed journalists on the list have been charged with cybercrimes.
However, it must be assumed that numbers don’t tell the full story, as the CPJ reports points out that: “Authoritarian leaders are increasingly finding more sophisticated ways to block independent reporters and outlets – notably internet shutdowns and increased surveillance through high-tech spyware – than keeping them behind bars.”