THE Republic of Egypt has been identified as the country with the highest number of jailed journalists in Africa in 2022.
This was disclosed in an annual report of The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published this month.
According to the report, although the number of jailed journalists slightly dropped this year to 21 from 25 last year, the North African country remains among the world’s top 10 jailers of journalists.
The country is trailing countries like Iran, China, Myanmar, Turkey, and Belarus, which were listed as this year’s top five jailers of journalists worldwide.
However, under pressure from the United States and the European Parliament over its human rights record, Egypt included some journalists in broader prisoner releases during the year but continued to detain others, among them Ahmed Fayez.
Fayez, an editor, was arrested for posting on Facebook that prison authorities are force-feeding another journalist, Alaa Abdelfattah, to keep him alive during his prolonged hunger strike.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Eritrea remains the region’s worst jailer of journalists, ranking ninth globally.
– Advertisement –
The report noted that the 16 journalists in various cells in the country had been held without trial or access to their families or lawyers for periods ranging from 17 to 22 years.
Eritrea is followed by Cameroon, with five journalists arbitrarily detained under an opaque judicial system that includes using military tribunals to prosecute newsmen, who are civilians under international law.
Last year, Ethiopia ranked a close second to Eritrea as the region’s worst jailer of journalists. It, however, released Natnael Gecho, the only journalist in its cells, earlier this month.
CPJ, however, noted that authorities have intermittently detained more than 60 journalists, most for prolonged periods without formal charges since the start of Ethiopia’s civil war in November 2020.
It stated that at least the five journalists being held in the Tigray rebel-controlled city of Mekelle were not listed in its report because their jailers were non-state actors, but they are a telling indicator of the dangerous conditions for reporters trying to cover the conflict.
In Rwanda, the CPJ expressed concerns over the continuous clampdown on dissenting speech within the country’s traditional media.
It highlighted that three of the four journalists behind bars in the country publish their work on YouTube. It noted that two of the YouTubers, Aimable Karasira and Dieudonne Niyonsenga (also known as Hassan Cyuma), have allegedly been subjected to torture and ill-treatment in prison.
– Advertisement –
The CPJ’s report found that 363 reporters were deprived of their freedom as of December 1, 2022 – a new global high that overtakes last year’s record by 20 per cent and marks another grim milestone in a deteriorating media landscape.