The 3 African countries with the highest number of jailed journalists

Press freedom is under attack across the world
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has released its annual census.
  • It shows the worst countries for the press across the world based on the number of imprisoned journalists.
  • The data also revealed the African countries with the highest number of jailed journalists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists' annual global survey has found that there are over 250 journalists in jails all over the globe.

Most of these imprisoned reporters have either been accused of producing "false news" or face "anti-state" charges, used frequently in Egypt, Russia and Singapore. The number of journalists charged with “false news” has gone up to 30 compared to 28 last year.

As of December 2019, China topped the list as the worst jailer of journalists with 48 people behind bars. Turkey comes second with 47 while Egypt and Saudi Arabia tied in third place with 26 each.

Here are 3 African countries with the highest number of jailed journalists:

  • Egypt

There are 26 journalists in Egyptian jails. According to the report, some of them were recently arrested ahead of protests against corruption in September, which included calls for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to resign.

Citing the violent arrest of one of the journalists, the report stated, "On October 12, plainclothes security officers in unmarked vehicles forced a car carrying reporter and columnist Esraa Abdelfattah off the road in greater Cairo, dragged her from the car and beat her, according to her friend and fellow journalist Mohamed Salah, with whom she was travelling."

It did not stop there as the report added that "Abdelfattah alleges she was beaten a second time for refusing to unlock her phone, and then shackled for hours. Salah said the officers at the initial encounter blindfolded and beat him, then took him to a deserted highway, questioned him for an hour, took his phone’s SIM card, and left him there. Authorities arrested Salah six weeks later and he remains jailed."

While several journalists have been released, authorities have ordered some of them including award-winning photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, to check in at a police station every evening.

  • Eritrea

Eritrea comes second in Africa for imprisonments with 16 journalists behind bars. This is the majority of the 39 journalists jailed in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the report, most of the jailed reporters here have not been heard from in almost two decades.

  • Cameroon 

With seven imprisoned journalists, Cameroon is the third African country with the highest number of jailed reporters.

The report notes that Ethiopia and Nigeria are slowly joining the list with the ongoing detentions of Nigerian publisher Agba Jalingo and Nigerian activist and journalist Omoyele Sowore.

In Ethiopia, there is the worrying case of editor Fekadu Mahtemework.


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