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14 December, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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At least 251 journos jailed globally: CPJ

Staff Reporter, Dhaka

At least 251 journalists are behind bars for doing their work, according to a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report released yesterday. Fresh waves of repression in China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia sustained the global crackdown on press freedom in 2018 for the third consecutive year. In its annual global survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists found at least 251 journalists in jail in relation to their work, as Turkey--still the world’s worst jailer of journalists--released a small number. The past three years have recorded the highest number of jailed journalists since CPJ began keeping track, with consecutive records set in 2016 and 2017. Turkey, China, and Egypt were responsible for more than half of those jailed around the world for the third year in a row, says the report. About 70% of journalists are jailed on anti-state charges, the report said, while

28 are charged with “false news” – an increase from 9 in 2017. The report also found politics as the most dangerous beat for journalists, followed by human rights. About 33 female journalists were imprisoned globally, 4 of them in Saudi Arabia for writing about women’s rights.

The majority of those imprisoned globally—70 percent—are facing anti-state charges such as belonging to or aiding groups deemed by authorities as terrorist organizations. The number imprisoned on charges of false news rose to 28 globally, compared with nine just two years ago. Egypt jailed the most journalists on false news charges with 19, followed by Cameroon with four, Rwanda with three, and one each in China and Morocco. The increase comes amid heightened global rhetoric about “fake news,” of which U.S. President Donald Trump is the leading voice.

The higher number of prisoners in China—with 47 behind bars—reflects the latest wave of persecution of the Uighur ethnic minority in the Xinjiang region. At least 10 journalists in China were detained without charge, all of them in Xinjiang, where the United Nations has accused Beijing of mass surveillance and detention of up to a million people without trial.

In the highest-profile example, Lu Guang, a freelance photographer and U.S. resident whose work on environmental and social issues in China has won awards from the World Press Photo Foundation and National Geographic, disappeared in Xinjiang in early November. Authorities later confirmed his arrest to his family, but have not disclosed his location or reason for detaining him.

In Egypt, at least 25 journalists are in prison as the administration of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has increasingly arrested journalists and added them to existing mass trials. Mohamed Ibrahim, a blogger known as “Mohamed Oxygen” who covered allegations of election irregularities and police abuse, is one of more than 40 defendants in one case charged with false news and being members of a banned group. National security prosecutors have repeatedly renewed Mohamed Oxygen’s 15-day pretrial detention since his April arrest.

Saudi Arabia—under intense scrutiny for the murder of exiled, critical Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate in October—stepped up its repression of journalists at home, with at least 16 journalists behind bars on December 1. The prisoners include four female journalists who wrote about women’s rights in the kingdom, including the ban on women driving that was lifted in June.

In the United States, where journalists encountered hostile rhetoric and fatal violence in 2018, no journalists were in jail on December 1, although nine were arrested in the course of the year, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, of which CPJ is a partner.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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