Reporters Without Borders: China tops list of journalists detained in 2020

The number of journalists detained worldwide in 2020 was 387, the same as last year and still at a record high, according to an annual report released on Monday. The number of journalists detained for COVID-19 coverage has increased. China remains the top detention country for journalists.

Reporters Without Borders put the global number of journalists detained in 2019 at 389.

As in 2019, the five major countries account for more than half (61 percent) of the world’s total detention of journalists, the group reported Monday. China continued to hold the most journalists, with 117 professional and non-professional journalists, followed by 34 from Saudi Arabia, 30 from Egypt, 28 from Vietnam and 27 from Syria.

Reporters Without Borders said, “The number of journalists detained worldwide remains at an all-time high.” “The growing number of women in the workforce are not immune.” According to the report, 42 female journalists are “currently deprived of their liberty”, up from 31 in 2019, a 35 per cent increase.

According to the report, a total of 17 people were jailed in 2020, including four journalists jailed during the massive crackdown on demonstrations against Lukashenko’s re-election in the wake of the presidential election.

Another new trend of similar concern in the report is the increase in the number of arrests related to the health crisis. A total of 14 journalists, including seven from China, are “still in detention” for reporting on the epidemic. Since March, REPORTERS Without Borders has launched a campaign on the issue, documenting more than 300 “news events directly related to the health crisis” between February and the end of November, involving nearly 450 journalists.

The report says the practice of “arbitrary interrogation and detention” of journalists increased fourfold between March and May, exceeding physical or mental violence against journalists and accounting for 35 percent of abuses. Reporters without Borders said most countries had adopted emergency laws or emergency measures to contain the outbreak, which had “curbed” the “spread of information”.

In addition, the number of journalists detained in war zones such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq has declined, with “at least 54 journalists currently being held hostage,” down 5 percent from last year.

In addition, the report counted four missing journalists in the Middle East, southern Africa and Latin America in 2020. No journalist has been missing since 2019.