By SHWETA RAJ KANWAR | December 14, 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, it does good to retrospect on the events and happenings before the curtain covers them up forever. The year 2017 has seen a spate of journalist killings and even them being jailed, not only in India but all over the world!

The memory of Gauri Lankesh, a journalist from Bengaluru who was assassinated on September 5, 2017 still remains fresh in our minds. She was the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike in Bengaluru. Not very long after this shocking incident, Pankaj Mishra, a journalist working for Hindi newspaper Rashtriya Sahara, was shot by two bikers on September 7 in the Arwal district of Bihar. Following this, another journalist from Tripura, Santanu Bhowmik was murdered on September 20, 2017 while on duty. This was the third case of a journalist being murdered in India within a fortnight. Amidst mass protests in the world’s largest democracy for protecting the rights and freedom of the Press, on November 21, another journalist named Sudip Dutta Bhowmik, also from Tripura was  murdered by a police officer of the Tripura State Rifles. This was just after a month of the previous murder of a journalist in the same state.

The above statistics is only limited to India that reveals 4 journalist murders so far in 2017. If we take a look at the worlwide ‘reported’ journalist killings, the data is even more shocking. According to the data presented by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in the year 2017, 37 journalists have been killed worldwide. The entire data can be found on this link: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Turning the focus on Journalists jailed all over the world, CPJ findings show that for the second year in a row, the number of journalists in jail has hit a historical high, with 262 behind bars. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says in its annual report that Turkey, Egypt and China are the worst offenders. The committee is now calling for more pressure from the international community.

“It is shameful that for the second year in a row, a record number of journalists are behind bars,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon in a statement to Al Jazeera News.

“Countries that jail journalists for what they publish are violating international law and must be held accountable,” he added.

According to the media rights group Reporters Without Borders, North Korea ranks the lowest in terms of press freedom. Iraq and Syria were the deadliest countries for reporters in 2017, CPJ numbers revealed. Politics reporters, who comprise 87 percent of those jailed, are most at risk of being jailed.

Cases like the ones mentioned above prove that the political situation in some countries which includes India has deteriorated and the tolerance for criticism has decreased which shows that authoritarianism is on the rise. But despite the risks involved, many are still determined to continue doing their jobs.  And despite all of this, the deafening silence of the national communities, leave alone the international communities poses a big question mark on the freedom of journalists not only in India, but all over the world!

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