Worldwide number of imprisoned journalists grows for sixth year in a row

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number of imprisoned journalists
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The worldwide number of imprisoned journalists has grown for the sixth year in a row, according to a recent report.

The worldwide number of journalists imprisoned for doing their job has increased in 2021 to reach a record figure of 293. According to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based organisation dedicated to promoting freedom of the press around the world, China is the country at the top of the list, with 50 journalists in prison.

Next on the list after China are Burma, Egypt, Vietnam, and Belarus. This is the sixth year in a row that the report concludes that there are more than 250 journalists in prison around the world. In 2020, the number was 280.

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This year’s report has also revealed that at least 24 journalists have been killed, and another 18 have died in strange circumstances.

It is not the first time that China is at the top of the list, but it is the first time that arrests of journalists have been recorded in Hong Kong, where a strict new national security law limiting freedom of the press was implemented in 2020 by Beijing.

News has just spread of the prison sentence of Jimmy Lai, founder of the Apple Daily in Hong Kong, for participating in a vigil held in remembrance of the victims of the Chinese repression of the 1989 pro-democratic protests in Tiananmen.


The report also mentions the arrest of the journalist Zhang Zhan in May 2020 for criticising the Chinese handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Regarding Myanmar, the report informs that the repression following the coup d’état that overthrew the head of government Aung San Suu Kyi resulted in the imprisonment of 26 journalists.

The report criticises the Egyptian legislation against freedom of the press and mentions the 25 journalists in prison. The most emblematic case is that of the photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, in prison since March 2019.


The next country on the list is Vietnam, with 23 journalists in prison, and Belarus with 19. The report highlights the case of Roman Protasevich, who was arrested after the Belarusian airforce forced the RyanAir flight he was travelling on to divert and land.

The director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, said “the number reflects two inextricable challenges — governments are determined to control and manage information, and they are increasingly brazen in their efforts to do so”.

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