Committee to Protect Journalists ( CPJ) Report on China: China is the World’s Worst Jailer of Journalists

Committee to Protect Journalists ( CPJ) Report on China: China is the World’s Worst Jailer of Journalists
Empty prison cell by Emiliano Bar via Unsplash, January 2, 2019


Marios Putro

Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

In its 2023 prison census, the New York-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), released a report regarding a surge in arrests of journalists internationally, the number reaching 320 detained behind bars. China has so far been the leading country with 44 imprisoned journalists, with the majority of them being from the Muslim Uyghur group (Whong, 2024).

Based on the group’s inquiry, more than half of the journalists detained were charged with false news, anti-state or terrorist charges as retaliation acts for their coverage. Additionally, China is at the top of the ranking accounting for 32% of detained journalists on a worldwide scale with Myanmar, Iran, and Vietnam following. China’s media crackdown reach has extended during the last few years, which can be indicated by the case of Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Journalists from Hong Kong were remarkably detained in 2021 for the first time. According to the report, Xinjiang has proven a region to be concerned about since 19 out of the 44 journalists put behind bars come from XUAR. Among those imprisoned is Ilham Tohti, a professor and also founder of the news website Uighurbiz. Tihti was arrested almost a decade ago and later sentenced to a lifelong sentence in prison due to separatist charges. The Chinese authorities have mainly used anti-state accusations against journalists who are usually accused of espionage, inciting separatism, or subverting state power. In the meantime, many of the journalists come from XUAR where China has been using repressive policies and tactics against the region’s mostly Muslim ethnic minorities (Whong, 2024).

Although these tactics conducted by Chinese authorities go against the international standards of Article 19 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) regarding freedom of expression, China has yet to ratify the international treaty since 1998, thus not being bound by its provisions (ICCPR, 1966). Nonetheless, media repression shouldn’t be left unnoticed, and human rights, in this case, the freedom of expression should be defended on a global scale.


OHCHR. (1966, December 16). International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Retrieved January 25, 2024, from

        Whong, E. (2024, January 20). China is the world’s worst jailer of journalists, CPJ says.      Radio Free Asia. Retrieved January 25, 2024, from