Journalists continue to live dangerously worldwide. Although the number of media people killed was down this year. But some supposedly peaceful countries are as dangerous as war zones.
As of year-end 2019, 389 journalists and other media workers worldwide are in prison in direct connection with their work, up 12 percent from a year ago. At least 49 media workers have been killed, only a minority of them in war zones, according to the 2019 annual press freedom report published Tuesday by Reporters Without Borders (ROG).
The most dangerous countries were Syria, Mexico, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. At least 57 media workers are currently kidnapped, according to Reporters Without Borders.
According to ROG, almost half of all imprisoned journalists are concentrated in China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. To the deadline 1. In December, 120 media workers were in prison in China, 34 in Egypt, 32 in Saudi Arabia, 26 in Syria (with a high number of unreported cases) and 25 each in Turkey and Vietnam.
Mexico as dangerous as Syria
"The high numbers of imprisoned journalists in China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are evidence of how these regimes have further tightened the screw of repression," said ROG board spokesman Michael Rediske. Even if significantly fewer media workers were killed in armed conflicts in 2019 than in previous years, he said: A country in a state of peace like Mexico is just as dangerous for journalists as Syria, a country at civil war, Rediske said.
In China, the number of imprisoned media professionals reached unprecedented heights in 2019, according to ROG. More than 40 percent of them are citizen journalists who try to disseminate independent information via the Internet despite tightened censorship of social networks. According to the report, most of the new cases of detained media professionals in China added in 2019 belong to the Uighur Muslim minority.
In Turkey, dozens of journalists were released during the year because they served their prison sentences or benefited from new court rulings on their cases. However, several were re-imprisoned after a short period of time. The risk of prosecution has actually increased for media workers in Turkey, it said.
Most journalists killed in 2019 in Syria and Mexico (10 each), Afghanistan (5), Pakistan (4) and Somalia (3). A total of 20 media workers died in countries with armed conflicts, 29 outside such areas. Thirty media workers were kidnapped in Syria, 15 in Yemen, 11 in Iraq and one in eastern Ukraine, it said.