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35% increase in journalists taken hostage around the world

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35% increase in journalists taken hostage around the world

  • How many journalists are in prison around the world?
  • Which country imprisons the most journalists?
  • How many journalists are currently being held by ISIL?
  • Which country are journalists most likely to disappear in?

(Keep reading for the answers or find them at the end)

“Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you are at it.”

(Horace Greeley, founder of the New York Tribune).

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is today publishing its annual worldwide round-up of journalists held hostage, imprisoned or missing.

According to RSF’s tally, 54 professional journalists – including one woman – are currently held hostage worldwide, a 35% increase on last year.

Syria is the country where non-state groups are holding the biggest number of journalists – 26. ISIL alone is holding 18, mainly in Syria and Iraq.

Hostage industry develops

(Former BBC journalist and Beirut hostage John McCarthy)

“A full-blown hostage industry has developed in certain conflict zones,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “We are very alarmed by the increase in the number of reporters held hostage in 2015.”

“The phenomenon is above all linked to the big surge in abductions of journalists in Yemen. 33 were kidnapped by Houthi militias and Al-Qaeda in 2015, compared to two in 2014. Thirteen are still being held hostage.”

Fewer journalists imprisoned

The number of journalists currently imprisoned, 153, is 14% fewer than this time last year. A total of 161 citizen-journalists and 14 media workers are also detained.

China continues to be the world’s biggest prison for journalists, closely followed by Egypt, with 22 journalists currently held.

Missing journalists

Eight journalists were reported missing in 2015. These disappearances occur mainly in conflict zones, where instability makes it harder to conduct investigations to locate missing journalists, if indeed there is any investigation at all.

Libya, where it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain reliable information, is the country most affected by this problem.

Four Libyan journalists and an Egyptian cameraman, all employed by privately-owned Barqa TV, were reported missing this year in Libya.

RSF revises and updates its safety guide

In response to the scale and variety of dangers facing journalists, RSF has produced a fully revised and amended version of its Safety Guide for Journalists in partnership with UNESCO. Designed for reporters going to high-risk areas, it is full of practical advice on dealing with the dangers awaiting in the field and stresses the importance of preparing well before leaving. The handbook is available in print and online versions in French, English, Spanish and Arabic.


  • 54
  • China
  • 18
  • Libya

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