A prominent media watchdog said in its annual press freedom report that a “record high” number of journalists were jailed across the world last year.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) estimated that 232 journalists were imprisoned as of Dec. 1, 2012. The figure represents an increase of 53 imprisonments over the tally recorded in 2011.
One reason there was an increase in the number of jailed journalists was in part due to “the widespread use of charges of terrorism and other anti-state offenses against critical reporters and editors,” the New York-based watchdog said Wednesday.
It said that China, Iran, and Turkey were “large-scale” jailers of journalists, and these countries’ actions helped push up the global figure. Last year’s figure shattered the previous record of 185 that was recorded in 1996.
“The three nations, the world’s worst jailers of the press, each made extensive use of vague anti-state laws to silence dissenting political views, including those expressed by ethnic minorities,” the CPJ said.
The group added that “anti-state charges such as terrorism, treason, and subversion were the most common allegations brought against journalists” and more than 132 journalists were held worldwide on such charges.
Syria, a country racked by civil war, and the East African nation of Eritrea each jailed a large number of journalists, the CPJ said. Many journalists in the two countries are being held in secret facilities without any formal charges publicly made against them, while Eritrea was described as the “worst abuser of due process” by the group.
The next five countries that jailed the most journalists last year were Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and Saudi Arabia, the group said.
Last month, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reported that 121 journalists were killed around the world in 2012, marking one of the bloodiest years for media workers. The conflict in Syria led the spike in journalist deaths.
The group blamed the rise in deaths on inaction from world governments and the United Nations, saying that world powers merely offer platitudes rather than concrete action to curb journalist deaths.
“It is no wonder that these sky-high numbers of killed journalists have become a constant feature in the last decade during which the usual reaction from governments and the United Nations has been a few words of condemnation, a cursory inquiry, and a shrug of indifference,” Jim Boumelha, the head of the IFJ, said last month.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.