547 journalists worldwide will spend New Year’s Eve in jail, 779 journalists incarcerated in 2023

547 journalists worldwide will spend New Year's Eve in jail, 779 journalists incarcerated in 2023
Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora Marroquín, founder and president of elPeriódico newspaper, has been detained on money laundering and blackmail charges | Source: Reuters

As the world prepares to ring in the , a sombre report from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reveals that 547 journalists worldwide will spend New Year's Eve behind bars, with 779 journalists incarcerated at some point in 2023.

, Myanmar, Belarus, and emerge as the leading countries imprisoning media personnel, collectively holding more than half of the world's jailed journalists.

In a statement provided to the , RSF expressed concern over the unprecedented sentences handed down to women journalists in 2023. Notable cases include Elaheh Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi, who received 12 and 13 years in prison, respectively, in Iran.

Belarus saw the imprisonment of icons of independent journalism, including Maryna Zolatava, Liudmila Chekina, and Valeriya Kastsiuhova, with sentences ranging from 10 to 12 years. Floriane Irangabiye of , one of the few women journalists jailed in sub-Saharan Africa, received a 10-year sentence.

Despite the alarming figures, RSF remains steadfast in its commitment to securing freedom for journalists. The organization has been deploying strategic efforts to address the issue, and Anne Bocande, the Editorial Director of RSF, emphasized the continued fight for press freedom.

“Fewer journalists have been imprisoned this year than last. We will continue to fight tirelessly every day, assisted by our correspondents in more than 130 countries, to free these women and men who have been jailed simply for trying to tell us what is happening,” stated Bocande.

Bocande highlighted the broader impact of imprisoning journalists: “Each journalist in prison is a journalist prevented from working. It's also a journalist who will be intimidated in the future. And it's hundreds or even thousands of colleagues feeling the threat of imprisonment hanging over them.”

The RSF urged global support for journalists risking their freedom to provide information, emphasizing each journalist's vital role in upholding the right to news and information for millions.

“Behind these statistics, there are human tragedies and political consequences. Together, let's keep helping those who risk their freedom by trying to keep us abreast of developments in their countries. Your support is essential, and I would like to thank you for it,” concluded Bocande.

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