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Record number of journalists arbitrarily detained worldwide, RSF says

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By Euronews
Jimmy Lai who founded the Apple Daily, is escorted by Correctional Services officers to get on a prison van before appearing in a court in Hong Kong.
Jimmy Lai who founded the Apple Daily, is escorted by Correctional Services officers to get on a prison van before appearing in a court in Hong Kong.   -   Copyright  Kin Cheung/AP Photo

A record number of journalists are currently detained worldwide, according to an annual report published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday.

A total of 488 journalists and media workers were in prison in mid-December 2021, RSF said, including 60 women.

The number of journalists' imprisoned was 20% higher than at the same time last year, the report said.

Three countries were behind the surge in arbitrary detentions of journalists: Myanmar, Belarus and China.

"The extremely high number of journalists in arbitrary detention is the work of three dictatorial regimes," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

"It is a reflection of the reinforcement of dictatorial power worldwide, an accumulation of crises, and the lack of any scruples on the part of these regimes. It may also be the result of new geopolitical power relationships in which authoritarian regimes are not being subjected to enough pressure to curb their crackdowns."

The military in Myanmar took power in a coup in February while Belarusian authorities have been cracking down on journalists following Alexander Lukashenko's 2020 disputed election.

China was the world's "biggest jailer of journalists for the fifth year running," RSF said.

There have never been so many female journalists in prison, the group said, stating the 60 women detained in connection with their work was 33% more than last year.

The highest number of detained female journalists was in China.

At the same time, the number of journalists killed for their work in 2021 was at the lowest in two decades at 46. Still, it means an average of nearly one journalist a week is killed in connection with their work.

65% of the journalists killed in 2021 were deliberately targeted and eliminated, RSF said, with Mexico and Afghanistan being the "two deadliest countries" for journalists.