Reporters Without Borders released its annual worldwide round-up of journalists who are detained, held hostage or missing. The report revealed that a total of 348 journalists are currently detained worldwide – 6% more than were detained at this time last year.
Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders is an international non-profit organisation which holds a consultant status at the United Nations.
The report found that 52 journalists are currently held hostage, all of them concentrated in the conflict zones of Syria Yemen, and Iraq. The leading abductor of journalists is the Islamic State, with Yemen’s Houthis coming second.
Globally, 6% more journalists were detained this year compared to 2015. The rise in detained reporters can be attributed to many factors, mainly the failed failed coup d’état in July and the prolonged conflicts in the Middle-east. The number of detained journalists in Turkey quadrupled due to the post-July witch-hunt instigated by the Recep Erdogan administration. Today, Turkey holds the dubious honour of being the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists. Likewise, China’s Communist Party and Egypt’s crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood have led to the arrest of dozens of journalists.
In its April report detailing press freedom rankings of different countries, RSF warned against an increasingly hostile climate for journalists to work in. The concern was mainly for journalists working in conflict zones. While the updated rankings are yet to be released, the growing number of detained journalists paints an ugly picture.
“The persecution of journalists around the world is growing at a shocking rate,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “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.”
The situation for 2017 seems particularly considering the approach that new world leaders have towards free media. United States President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly targeted the media during his campaign for the White House while leaders like the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has used profane slurs against journalists. Press freedom being the basis of any free country, the odious predictions for 2017 are indeed troubling.