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Journalists Under Attack and Behind Bars

In 2018, 99 journalists were killed (21 more than 2017), 7 of whom were women. Nine of those killed were freelancers. [1]

Global impunity remains astonishingly high – well over 95% – for these crimes. The countries with the worst rates of impunity are Somalia, Syria, and Iraq, where attacks on local journalists are much less likely to be brought to justice. [2]

The number of journalists behind bars also rose in 2018, for the third year running; at the end of the year, more than 250 journalists were in prison. For the third year in a row, Turkey (68), China (47), and Egypt (25) were responsible for more than half of those imprisonments.[3] 13% of those imprisoned were women journalists, and 30% were freelance. 70% were detained on anti-state charges, and 11% on false news charges – a huge rise from the year before.[4] Exacerbating this was the strategic withdrawal of accreditation from journalists and harsh rhetoric that aims to stigmatise and discredit the media, leaving them vulnerable to attacks from both state and non-state actors.

Solidarity with journalists under attack was one of the standout trends of 2018, however. There was great public solidarity movements with Maria Ressa, Ivan Golunov, and Marielle Franco, among others.

Journalist Ján Kuciak’s murder led to protests in 48 towns and cities in Slovakia, as well as 17 other cities around the world; in Bratislava alone, about 60,000 people marched, and a number of Government Ministers, followed by the Prime Minister himself, were forced to resign. [5]

 

 

[1] UNESCO, Observatory of Killed Journalists, 2019, available at https://en.unesco.org/themes/safety-journalists/observatory

[2] Committee to Protect Journalists, Global Impunity Index 2018, available at https://cpj.org/reports/2018/10/impunity-index-getting-away-with-murder-killed-justice.php

[3] Committee to Protect Journalists, Hundreds of Journalists Jailed Globally Becomes the New Normal, 13 December 2018, available at https://cpj.org/reports/2018/12/journalists-jailed-imprisoned-turkey-china-egypt-saudi-arabia.php

[4] Committee to Protect Journalists, Hundreds of Journalists Jailed Globally Becomes the New Normal, 13 December 2018, available at https://cpj.org/reports/2018/12/journalists-jailed-imprisoned-turkey-china-egypt-saudi-arabia.php

[5] The Slovak Spectator, Updated: Enough of Fico, Thousands of People Shouted at Gatherings Across Slovakia, 8 March 2018, available at https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20777059/enough-of-fico-thousands-of-people-shouted-at-gatherings-across-slovakia.html

 

 

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