World leaders assembled in Paris in support of press freedom yesterday, following the brutal murder of 12 people at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
The rally was meant to show solidarity with the victims of the attack and defiance against those who wish to curtail free expression. However, many of the countries represented have poor records when it comes to press freedom at home.
On the Friday before the rally, Saudi Arabia had blogger Raif Badawi publicly flogged for setting up a liberal website which they deemed to be insulting to Islam. He is currently serving a ten year prison sentence, along with countless other Saudi activists and dissidents.
Bahrain imprisons the second highest number of journalists in the world per capita, and has also been accused of torturing France 24 correspondent Nazeeha Saeed for covering 2011's pro-democracy demonstrations.
Sixteen journalists are currently imprisoned in Egypt for doing their job, including the Al Jazeera trio Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, and photojournalist Mahmoud ‘Shawkan’ Abou Zied.
Turkey was the top jailer of journalists in the world in 2013. Today, it still holds seven in prison, and in December police detained a further 23 people following raids on media outlets linked to opposition cleric Fethullah Gülen.
Russia has jailed journalists and bloggers for such crimes as “insulting a government servant” and “insulting a judge.” Its government has also been heavily criticised for press censorship and blocking independent media websites.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Israeli forces killed up to six journalists during the war in Gaza over the summer. They have also been accused by Human Rights Watch of “targeting civilians” in a string of attacks on media facilities two years ago. The Foreign Press Association also alleges that the Israeli army has been “deliberately targeting” journalists covering protests in the West Bank.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
There are four bloggers currently imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates: Osama al-Najjar, Obaid Yousef al-Zaabi, Saleh Mohammed al-Dhufairi, and Khalifa al-Nuami. In 2013, the UAE also held a journalist incommunicado and without charge for a month over alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In pictures: Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
In pictures: Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
1/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
Demonstrators make their way along Boulevard Voltaire in a unity rally in Paris
2/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
People marched in a rally for unity and in tribute to the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris
3/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
People take part in a Unity rally Marche Republicaine at the Place de la Nation (Nation square) in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by homegrown Islamists
4/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
People take part in the Unity rally "Marche Republicaine" in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by homegrown Islamists
5/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
French President Francois Hollande welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Elysee Palace before attending a Unity rally Marche Republicaine in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by homegrown Islamists
6/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
French President Francois Hollande comforts French columnist for Charlie Hebdo Dr Patrick Pelloux as they attend the solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris
7/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
French cartoonist Luz (L) comforts Dr Patrice Pelloux, both Members of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, as they take part in a Unity rally Marche Republicaine in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree
8/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
French President Francois Hollande observes a minute of silence surrounded by heads of state including (LtoR) Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Donald Tusk, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan and Queen Rania Al Abdullahas they attend the solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris
9/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
Demonstrators make their way from 'Place de la Republique' to 'Place de la Nation' in a unity rally in Paris led by French president Francois Hollande and other world leaders following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris
10/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
People gather for a march against terrorism at the Place de la Republique in Paris
11/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
Thousands of people gather at Republique Square in Paris
12/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
People gather to take part in a unity rally Marche Republicaine in the Republique square
13/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
People gather at Place de la Nation, following a mass unity rally following thousands of people marching from Place de la Republique on route to Place de la Nation
14/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
Demonstrators make their way along Place de la Republique during a mass unity rally
15/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
From left to right: Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Mahmoud Abbas walk during a mass unity rally
16/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
People gather at Place de la Nation, following a mass unity rally
17/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
After the unity rally in Paris the tributes outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo have now become a carpet of flowers
18/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
A woman pauses for a picture during a mass unity rally
19/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
People light candles following thousands of people marching from Place de la Republique on route to Place de la Nation
20/20 Charlie Hebdo Demonstration, Paris
Qatari poet Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami was sentenced to life in prison in November 2012 for publicly reciting the Jasmine Poem, which praised the uprising in Tunisia against president Ben Ali.
Courts in the occupied West Bank sentenced two Palestinians to jail for insulting president Mahmoud Abbas in 2013, including journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh who shared a satirical photo of Abbas on Facebook.
Algeria has detained journalist Abdessami Abdelhai without trial for the last 17 months. In November he began a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.
In December a military court in Tunisia jailed blogger Yassine Ayari for three years on charges of “defaming the army” in a series of Facebook posts. Amnesty International have since called for his “immediate release.”
In Ferguson, police arrested Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery after slamming him against a soda machine in a McDonald’s, while other journalists have also been detained and threatened during the unrest.
Riot police in Greece injured photographer Tatiana Bolari at a protest in June last year, after beating her legs and back with riot shields. Another journalist, Marios Lolos, was also beaten by the authorities. Reporters Without Borders described their behaviour as “intolerable.”
In 2013, Reporters Without Borders accused the British authorities of “an extremely grave violation of freedom of information” after they forced The Guardian to destroy computer hard drives containing documents provided by Edward Snowden.
Police arrested two journalists while they were covering a protest in November last year. They did not inform their families for more than 24 hours and allegedly prevented one of the detained reporters from having access to a lawyer. Reporters Without Borders condemned their arrest.