As many as 363 journalists are currently imprisoned across the globe as of 1 December 2022, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) annual prison census. CPJ is a non-profit organisation that stands for rights of journalists and press freedom world-wide. The past year’s number is 20% higher than the previous year, marking, “another grim milestone in a deteriorating media landscape,” the CPJ commented.
Iran, China, Myanmar, Turkey, and Belarus top the chart in a year marked by conflict, repression and authoritarian political leaders and heads of governments, many of whom support democratic institutions and freedom of expression in name only. According to the CPJ report, there is an increasing trend of repression and criminalization of independent reporting, deploying increasing cruelty to stifle dissenting voices and undermine press freedom.
Sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in Iran saw nearly 14,000 being jailed in the protests that followed with several media persons arrested. Among 49 journalists imprisoned by Iran’s regime, 22 were women journalists.
Seven Indian journalist remain in jail
According to the CPJ Report, India, with seven journalists in jail, continues to draw criticism over its treatment of the media, in particular its use of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, a preventive detention law, to keep Kashmiri journalists Aasif Sultan, Fahad Shah, and Sajad Gul behind bars after they were granted court-ordered bail in separate cases. CPJ noted that six out of seven journalists are being investigated under the terrorism-related Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Aasif Sultan, a reporter for the Kashmir Narrator in Jammu and Kashmir, has been jailed since 27 August 2018 (4 years 3 months). Initially arrested in a UAPA case, Sultan was rearrested under the PSA in April 2022 after receiving bail in the original case.
Malayalam freelance journalist, Siddique Kappan, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on 5 October 2020 and has been in jail for 27 months. Although the Supreme Court granted him bail in the alleged larger conspiracy case related to protests against the Hathras rape, Kappan still remains in jail due to a money laundering case.
Freelance journalist and activist Gautam Navlakha, arrested by the Pune Police on 14 April 2020 in the Elgar Parishad case spent more than 30 months in jail before the Supreme Court ordered that he should be put under house arrest.
Manan Dar, another freelance journalist, was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir on October 10, 2021. Dar is accused of involvement in a ‘militant conspiracy’ case, and has so far spent one year and three months in jail.
Sajad Gul of the Kashmir Walla has been in jail since January this year. He was first arrested for tweeting a video of a protest. After he got bail in the case, he was detained under the PSA.
Fahad Shah, also of the Kashmir Walla, was arrested in February 2022 after the army accused him of spreading fake news regarding an event at a school. Subsequently two more cases were filed against Shah who was given bail in two cases by a local court in December 2022. However, as with many of the journalists arrested in India, he remains imprisoned because of another case.
Rupesh Kumar Singh, a freelance journalist in Jharkhand, was arrested in July 2022 under the UAPA. Two other cases were filed against him later.
The CPJ report can be accessed here.
To access the databse of all journalists imprisoned in 2022 click here.