Africa: Under Fire – Record Number of Journalists Arrested Worldwide

Journalists have been assaulted, arrested or otherwise prevented from documenting history in unprecedented numbers while covering Black Lives Matter, anti-police brutality protests, Covid-19 and corruption.

As governments clamped down on news coverage of civil unrest and the coronavirus pandemic, the latest census by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows a record number of journalists were imprisoned because of their work in 2020. A separate report, by the CPJ and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, found that 120 journalists have been detained while covering protests in the US.

As of 1 December 2020, at least 394 journalists had been arrested in the US, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The US, China, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia led in the number of arrests.

Protests and political tensions were a catalyst for many arrests. The CJP reports that two countries with significant increases in jailed journalists were Ethiopia, where unrest has deteriorated into armed conflict, and Belarus, where journalists were detained while covering protests against the election victory of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Of the US’s record-breaking 120 arrests, more than 36% were accompanied by assault. Journalists were beaten, hit by rubber bullets or other projectiles or covered in chemical…

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