Turkey has been named the world’s number one jailer of journalists for the second consecutive year, followed closely by Iran and China, a U.S.-based watchdog said Dec. 18.
The number of journalists behind bars in Turkey is 40; down from the 61 recorded in October 2012, and less than the 49 on Dec. 1, 2012, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), reports the Hurriyet Daily News.
The number of journalists killed and imprisoned fell in 2013 but despite this decrease it was still the second worst year on record for reporters in prison, and Turkey still had the world record in number of jailed journalists, holding more in custody than Iran, China, or Eritrea.
“As a NATO member and a regional leader, Turkey should not belong in the list of top press jailers. But from the failure to reform its legislation in a meaningful way to the crackdown on its journalists in the aftermath of the Gezi Park protests, Turkey has grown increasingly repressive despite the modest decline in the number of media workers behind bars,” said the CPJ in a statement on its website.
“Jailing journalists for their work is the hallmark of an intolerant, repressive society,” said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.
The CPJ said it had contacted Turkish officials over the issue in September and was informed by the Justice Ministry that there were 54 journalists jailed on different charges. The CPJ found, however, that out of 54 jailed journalists, 40 of them were jailed for their work, and further concluded that there was not sufficient information to determine that the imprisonments in the other 14 cases were work-related and continued its investigation over these cases.
Together, Turkey, Iran and China accounted for more than half of the 211 journalists imprisoned around the world in 2013, making it the second worst year since records began in 1990, Agence France-Presse reported. In 2012, there were 232 jailed journalists.
Meanwhile, so far this year, 52 journalists have been killed around the world as a direct result of their work, down from 73 last year, the CPJ said.
Syria, due to its civil war which has killed more than 126,000 people and created 2.4 million refugees, was the deadliest country for journalists for a second year running.
CPJ said 21 reporters were killed in Syria, six in Egypt, five in Pakistan, four in Somalia, three in Brazil and another three in Iraq. In Mali and Russia, two were killed.
One journalist was killed each in Turkey, Bangladesh, Colombia, Philippines, India and Libya.
The number of journalists imprisoned by the Syrian government fell from 15 in 2012 to 13, but dozens of others have been abducted and are believed to be held by armed opposition groups. About 30 journalists are missing in Syria.