The International Federation of Journalists IFJ said that media freedom continued to be under attack across much of the world in 2021 with 45 journalists having been killed since 1 January 2021 and 365 are still behind bars.
The IFJ put Afghanistan on the top position on the killed list as nine Afghan journalists had lost their lives in the line of duty, and China has been marked top on a detention list, in which 102 journalists are behind bars in the country.
According to the IFJ report, the imprisonment of journalists was on the rise, with 365 journalists behind bars compared to 235 last year.
“The world needs to wake up to the growing violations of journalists’ rights and media freedoms across the globe,” said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger.
“These lists of journalists in jail and colleagues who have been killed are clear evidence of deliberate acts to suppress independent reporting. They also point to the violation of the people’s fundamental right to access accurate, objective and fair information so that they can make properly informed choices about public affairs, which is a requisite for an inclusive society and true rule by consent,’’ he added.
Apart from China, 34 journalists are still in Turkish jails, 29 in Belarus, 29 in Eritrea, 27 in Egypt, 21 in Vietnam, 18 in Myanmar, 12 in Russia, 11 in Azerbaijan and Yemen, 10 in Cambodia and 9 in Iran, according to IFJ.
The IFJ’s list of journalists and media staff killed so far in 2021 is down from last year, with 45 killings recorded against 65 in 2020.
Apart from Afghanistan, eight journalists were killed in Mexico, four in India and three in Pakistan, making Asia lead the regional pack with 20 killings, before Americas 9, Africa 8, Europe 6, and the Middle East and Arab World on just one.
“The Asia Pacific region owes its top position on the killed list to the situation of journalists in Afghanistan as highlighted by the safety crisis in media, after the return to power of the Taliban with their avowed intolerance to independent reporting and hostile attitude to women’s participation in public life, including working as journalists,” the IFJ added.
The collapse of the Afghan government and the withdrawal of Western troops left thousands of journalists scrambling to get to safety, outside their country and abandoning their careers and livelihood, according to IFJ.
The IFJ had denounced the new form of mass surveillance on journalists, Pegasus, a highly advanced spying device which was used to interfere with communications of thousands of people, including journalists.
The IFJ called on the United Nations to adopt a Convention on the safety of journalists to promote, protect and ensure the safety of media professionals in times of peace and during armed conflict, and to safeguard their ability to exercise their profession freely and independently in an enabling environment, without facing harassment, intimidation or attacks against their physical integrity.
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