Imprisonment of journalists worldwide reached a record high in 2012, according to a comprehensive study by the press freedom watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The research adumbrates details of the worst excesses of offending countries, identifying a total of 232 individuals behind bars - an increase of 53 on its 2011 tally. The list take the form of a snapshot of those incarcerated as of 12.01am on December 1, 2012; it thus does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released at other points throughout the year.
The report identifies Turkey, Iran and China as having the most egregious records, with the three countries doing much to swell the overall total to its highest point since the CPJ first began conducting surveys in 1990. Eritrea and Syria were additionally classified as among the very worst offenders, with Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia completing the top ten. Anti-democratic regimes in such countries were cited by the study as displaying evidence of extensive, autocratic and indiscriminate use of vague anti-state laws, such as terrorism, treason and subversion, in order to silence dissent and political opposition without so much as a perfunctory concession either to due process or to the rule of law.