Which countries are the worst for journalists?

The mounting crackdown on journalists in Egypt has been a concern. However, the country is still ahead of others, such as China, Eritrea, Iran, and Cuba. 

Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters/File
Supporters demand the release of Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour in front of a court in Berlin, Germany, on June 22, 2015. The banners read "Being journalist is not a crime." Mr. Mansour was arrested in Berlin upon Egypt's request.

Amid a backlash against an Egyptian law threatening to jail journalists who do not follow the official line in their reporting on terrorist attacks, Egypt has agreed to drop the proposed sentence.

The Egyptian cabinet decided on Thursday to amend the article of its anti-terrorism law and fine those who report anything but the official line on jihadists attacks, Cairo-based Middle East News Agency reported.

On July 1, the Egyptian cabinet approved a draft anti-terrorism law which included an article threatening at least two years in prison for publishing “false information on terrorist attacks that contradict official statement,” the Guardian reported.

The announcement came after the media coverage of a wave of jihadist attacks against the army in the Sinai Peninsula. The military said 21 soldiers were killed in the violence, but media agencies reported higher death tolls, citing unnamed security sources.

But on Thursday, the cabinet replaced the imprisonment with a heavy fine. Cabinet Spokesman Hossam Qawish announced that the fine can range from 200,000 to 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,500 to $6,400).

The mounting crackdown on journalists in Egypt has been a concern for international organizations that promote press freedom and defend the rights of journalists.  

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported on June 25 that Egypt has the highest number of journalists behind bars since the organization began keeping records on the country in 1990. The report details the incarceration of 18 journalists in Egypt.

Prior to the passage of the new laws restricting press freedom, Egypt wasn't included in the CPJ's April report on the 10 most censored countries. The New York-based organization’s 2015 annual list ranks Eritrea as the worst country, followed by North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, Myanmar, and Cuba.

Noting that imprisonment is the most effective form of intimidation and harassment used against journalists, the group adds that seven of those countries – Eritrea, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, Myanmar, and China – are also among the worst jailers of the press.

According to CPJ, last year 221 journalists were imprisoned, mostly in China (44), Iran (30) and Eritrea (23).

Reporters Without Borders’ 2015 index which offers a ranking of 180 countries based on press freedom, considers Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, and China, as the five worst and Finland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden as the five best countries. The United States is ranked 49.

Besides imprisonment and censorship, the killing of journalists is another ongoing problem. CPJ, which runs the “Global Campaign Against Impunity” says 755 journalists have been murdered worldwide since 1992, from which 652 were killed with impunity.

In November 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted its first resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. It also named November 2 as "International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists."

And in February, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma announced global safety principle and practices for freelancers around the world which is endorsed by some major news organizations.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.