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Record High Number Of Journalists Imprisoned

Demonstrators call for press freedom in support of journalists from the Southern Weekend newspaper outside the company's office building in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong province, January 8, 2013

Authorities made extensive use of vague anti-state laws to silence dissenting political views.

The Committee To Protect Journalists, or CPJ-- an independent, non-profit organization that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists-- published its annual report in mid-December, noting that in 2012, imprisonment of journalists worldwide reached a record high since CPJ first began conducting its surveys in 1990. As of December 1, 232 journalists were behind bars. The previous record, set in 1996, was 185.

Record High Number Of Journalists Imprisoned
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According to the report, authorities made extensive use of vague anti-state laws to silence dissenting political views. Journalists were charged with terrorism, treason, and subversion; with engaging in ethnic or religious insult; criminal defamation; violations of censorship; and dissemination of false news.

Most of the detainees are local journalists being held by their own governments; only three are foreign journalists. And most are online or print reporters.

The United States opposes detentions based on the peaceful exercise of freedoms of association, assembly or expression. We believe that a free media is the bedrock of a free, healthy and energetic society. It allows citizens to hold informed opinions, make informed decisions and lead informed lives. It keeps public officials accountable, provides outlets for healthy debate, and enables society to become more stable, prosperous, and democratic. Journalists are an invaluable resource to all healthy societies, and must be allowed to do their jobs.

“Journalists expose corruption and highlight issues that are critical to our common future, from election transparency in the Balkans to human trafficking in Asia,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Center for Journalists’ Awards dinner, on Nov. 13, 2012. “This can be difficult, dangerous work. [They] ask the tough questions. [They] travel to the most remote places. [They] put [their] lives on the line each and every day. But [they] tell the stories that need to be told, and shed light on issues that cannot afford to be hidden in the shadows.”

Secretary Clinton continued: “Today the indispensable power of journalism to inform, provoke and catalyze positive change is as essential as ever.”

“Access to information is the cornerstone to empowering people and communities across the globe, and . . . . a free press is an absolutely essential element of successful democracies.”