By Staff Writer
The Reporters without Borders (RSF) annual 2021 round-up detailed over 488 reporters currently arrested, the highest number since the institute’s initial report 25 years ago.
Further, over 60 of these are women, the highest number ever and a third higher than the 2020 number.
In addition, RSF reports that around 65 journalists are “kidnapped, taken hostage, killed or disappeared.” All but one of them are based in the Middle East – 44 in Syria, 11 in Iraq and 9 in Yemen, with Olivier Dubois kidnapped in Mali, the only journalist not currently held in the Middle East.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham was the largest violate, accused of holding seven journalists, up from 3 in 2020.
In more positive news, the RSF reports 48 journalist deaths in 2021, the lowest number since the institute started counting and attributed to the stabilisation of conflicts in Syria and Yemen, which were responsible for the deaths of tens of journalists, especially at the height of the conflicts in 2015 and 2016, when hundreds of journalists travelled to these countries.
However, 30 of the 48 journalists killed in 2021 were attributed to their work, i.e., they were assassinated for their journalism.
The problem is not limited to the Middle East, with dozens of journalists jailed in Russia, China and even the US. A recent ruling in December has even paved the path for the extradition of Julian Assange to the US, where he will face espionage charges for highlighting US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.