CPJ: 30 journalists jailed in sub-Saharan Africa, Eritrea top

Friday December 14 2018

According to the Press Freedom Barometer 2012, Eritrea ranked 179 out of 179 countries surveyed and had the most number of imprisoned journalists on the continent (50), heavily controlled media and nearly non-existent dissenting voices.

A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows 16 are behind bars in Eritrea. GRAPHIC | EDWARD MWASI | NMG 

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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Eritrea has the highest number of jailed journalists in the sub-Saharan region, the latest report by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows.

The CPJ Special Report released on Thursday shows that 16 journalists are behind bars in this country.

Cameroon came second with seven journalists locked up, one being Michael Doppa who was charged with defaming soccer star Samuel Etoo.

Freelance journalist Thomas Awah Jr, one of those jailed, is reported to be critically ill, according to the CPJ.

Mr Michael Biem, editor of the Huri News, is another journalist who is imprisoned in Cameroon.

Thirty journalists from five sub-Saharan African countries were in jail as at December 1.

Other countries in the region where journalists had been jailed by this date are Rwanda (four), DRC (two) and Somalia (one).

By last December, 39 journalists had been jailed and 24 released.

The remaining 15, who were not freed, continue to be detained in Eritrea.

World figures

Globally, 251 or more journalists have been jailed. China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia imprisoned more journalists than last year while Turkey remained the world’s worst jailer.

The report by Elana Beiser, its editorial director, shows that Turkey, China, and Egypt were responsible for more than half of those jailed around the world for the third year in a row.

“The higher number of prisoners in China — with 47 behind bars — reflects the latest wave of persecution of the Uighur ethnic minority in the Xinjiang region," states the report.

"At least 10 journalists in China were detained without charges, all of them in Xinjiang, where the United Nations has accused Beijing of mass surveillance and detention of up to a million people without trial."

The report went on to stay that majority of those imprisoned globally — 70 percent — are facing anti-state charges such as belonging to, or aiding, groups deemed by authorities as terrorist organisations.

"The number imprisoned on charges of false news rose to 28 globally, compared to nine just two years ago. Egypt jailed the most journalists on false news charges with 19, followed by Cameroon with four, Rwanda with three, and one each in China and Morocco," the CPJ said.

"The increase comes amid heightened global rhetoric about fake news, of which US President Donald Trump is the leading voice.”

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