Turkey leads rise in journalist detentions

Sunday 18/12/2016
Police escort journalist Bulent Mumay (C) and other journalists to the court, in Istanbul, on July 29th. (AP)

Paris - The number of journal­ists detained worldwide rose in 2016, an increase related to Turkey where more than 100 journal­ists and media contributors are in jail, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.

“A total of 348 journalists are currently detained worldwide — 6% more than were detained at this time last year,” RSF said in its annual report, which was re­leased December 13th. The figure includes bloggers and freelance contributors.

“The number of detained pro­fessional journalists in Turkey has risen 22% after quadrupling in the wake of the failed coup d’état in July,” it said.

The number of women journal­ists imprisoned more than quad­rupled over the period — from five to 21.

“This reflects in part the grow­ing role of women in journalism but above all the disastrous situa­tion in Turkey, which currently ac­counts for one-third of the world’s detained women journalists,” RSF said.

“The persecution of journalists around the world is growing at a shocking rate,” RSF Secretary- General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

“At the gateway to Europe, an all-out witch-hunt has jailed doz­ens of journalists and has turned Turkey into the world’s biggest prison for the media profession. In the space of a year, the Erdogan re­gime has crushed all media plural­ism while the European Union has said virtually nothing.”

Aside from Turkey, between them China, Iran and Egypt ac­count for more than two-thirds of journalists imprisoned, RSF said, calling for the creation of a spe­cial representative for the safety of journalists directly attached to the office of the UN secretary-general.

The number of journalists held hostage fell in 2016, with 52, most­ly locals, held around the world compared with 61 in 2015. RSF said the 2015 number was particularly high. This year all the hostages are in the Middle East — Syria, Yemen and Iraq — with 21 held by the Is­lamic State.

RSF said it had identified just one missing journalist in 2016, Burundian Jean Bigirimana, com­pared with eight last year.

The group considers journal­ists missing when there is insuf­ficient evidence of their death or kidnapping and no credible claim of responsibility for their death or abduction.

In a separate report, the Com­mittee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that 259 journalists were imprisoned around the world in 2016, 81 of them in Turkey.

Its number is lower because the CPJ only counts journalists de­tained by the state, while RSF also reports on those held hostage by non-state groups.

The CPJ said the top five coun­tries for jailing journalists were: Turkey, China, Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

For the first time since 2008 Iran does not appear in the top five.

(Agence France-Presse)