China scored the record of number of journalists behind bars in 2015 and Egypt is second as the worst jailer of journalists in the entire world, according to a report published Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Those countries are certainly not considerable to communicate and spread the truth, whereas Iran, Vietnam and Ethiopia hold fewer journalists prisoner but still some restrictions such as forced exile persist. There are 199 journalists in jail worldwide who face to charges against their work, 22 less than last year.

Turkey topped the list of worst jailers with 40 journalists imprisoned in 2013, down from 49 the year before. Credit: Al Jazeera

“CPJ believes that journalists should not be imprisoned for doing their jobs. The organization has sent letters expressing its serious concerns to each country that has imprisoned a journalist. In the past year, CPJ advocacy led to the early release of at least 31 imprisoned journalists worldwide”, says the report by the Committee to Protect Journalists states.

For the second year in a row, China scores as the world’s worst country to work as a journalist, with a quarter of those under arrest globally. 49 journalists in jail are a record for China, as President Xi Jinping shows no efforts to fight corruption and reporting on other issues such as the country’s economic growth decline comes with high risks. In August 25, Wang Xiaolu, a reporter for the business magazine Caijing, was arrested “on suspicion of colluding with others and fabricating and spreading false information about securities and future trading” because he reported that a regulator was looking for ways to allow security firms to take out stock market’s funds.

 In his co-called confession on CCTV, Wang Xiaolu said he was ‘regretful’ for what he had done. Credit: The Guardian/AFP/Getty Images
In his co-called confession on CCTV, Wang Xiaolu said he was ‘regretful’ for what he had done. Credit: The Guardian/AFP/Getty Images

It remains unclear if he had been officially charged with a crime but he later he said on television that he regretted covering the story and pleaded for leniency. The CPJ has found that Chinese authorities frequently use televised confessions as a tactic to deal with journalists who report sensitive issues.

As for Egypt, the climate for the media has been quickly deteriorated, as Cairo holds 23 journalists in prison, compared with 12 in 2014, whereas in 2012 there were no journalists under arrest for their work. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi keeps on using national security as the perfect excuse to repress the opposition. Recently, as he returned to Egypt from Germany, Ismail Alexandrani was arrested for critically reporting Egyptian authorities’ efforts to fight against extremist militants in the Sinai Peninsula. He was charged on Dec. 1 with publishing false information and for being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the enemy group. Prosecutors ordered Alexadrani to be detained for 15 days before trial, but they can renew the period indefinitely.

Alexandrani presenting his “The Security Policy in Sinai: US-Egyptian Common Interest or Postponed Expensive Bill?” at the Wilson Center. Photo: The Wilson Center

Press conditions have also worsened in Turkey, as the country doubled the number of journalists under arrest throughout the year with 14. In 2014 dozens of journalists were released after Turkey had scored as the world’s worst jailer for two years in a row. However, with new arrests in 2015 the nation marks the fifth worst jailer worldwide, since this year Turkey faced two general elections and troubles regarding the Syrian civil war, among other problematics. Lately, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who are executive members of independent daily Cumhuriyet, were arrested to face charges of espionage and collaborating with terrorist group after they reported that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had provided Syria with weapons justified by humanitarian aid.

The CPJ started its annual prison surveys in 1990. For the second time since, the committee did not find any work-related imprisonment in the American continent. The first time was in 2011. The CPJ mentions a series of factors that could influence that trend, including the recent change in Cuba’s policy of frequently arresting journalists, the efficiency of the Inter-American human rights system and several campaigns carried out by non-profit organizations fighting journalist criminal defamation. Nevertheless, the CPJ warns that journalists still face challenges in the Americas.

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists