017 cannot be described as the best year for journalists as 262 were arrested for doing their jobs. 66 of the arrested journalists are from 14 African countries, according to journalist rights group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
20 journalists were arrested in Egypt alone, the highest on the African continent followed by Eritrea where 15 journalists are behind bars.
Uganda jailed 8, followed by Ethiopia (5), Democratic Republic of Congo (5), Morocco (4), Algeria (2), Somalia (1), Republic of Congo (1), Equatorial Guinea (1), Cameroon (1), Nigeria (1), Niger (1) and Mauritania (1).
Most of the Egyptian and Moroccan journalists arrested this year have been accused of being anti-State agents due to their reportage.
The Ugandan journalists were imprisoned for defamation while the Mauritanian journalist was charged with blasphemy. Some of the Egyptian journalists behind bars and the Somali journalists were charged with the spread of fake news while those in the rest of the countries were not charged at all.
The reason for their arrest is clearly linked to their work as journalists in these countries are noted for having strong opposition to dissent. These journalists are still alive and fighting for their freedom.
42 journalists lost the fight after they were murdered in the line of duty. Two of them are from Africa including Somalia’s Abdullahi Osman Moalim and Ali Nur Said who were killed in a crossfire while working.
CPJ says Egypt is part of the worst three jailers of journalists in 2017 including Turkey and China reflecting “a dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press”.
This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com