December 8, 2011; Source: Huffington PostThe Committee to Protect Journalists released a report today showing that arrests of journalists are up worldwide by 20 percent.

CPJ counted 179 writers, editors, and photojournalists as behind bars on December 1. Of these, 65 are being held without publicly known charges, and many of were in secret prisons without access to family, friends, or legal counsel. Iran alone, which cracked down after their controversial 2009 election, had 42 journalists behind bars, but other countries with bad track records were Eritrea, China, Burma, Vietnam, Syria, and Turkey.

Here is a description of the situation in Iran drawn from the report:

While Iran’s 2009 post-election crackdown marked the beginning of widespread press imprisonments there, authorities have maintained a revolving cell door since that time, freeing some detainees on furloughs even as they make new arrests. Journalists freed on furloughs often post six-figure bonds and endure severe political pressure to keep silent or turn on their colleagues. “The volume of arrests, interrogations, and people out on bail is enormous,” said Omid Memarian, an exiled Iranian journalist. “The effect is that many journalists know they should not touch critical subjects. It really affects the way they cover the news because they are under constant fear and intimidation.”

The report showed a decline of journalist imprisonments in Europe and Central Asia, and there were none imprisoned for work-related reasons in the Americas But remember, this issue is very much a concern right now in the United States, with the recent arrest of journalists covering OWS

The arrest of journalists is an attempt to smother civil society, and the entire nonprofit sector should be concerned when these numbers begin to rise.—Ruth McCambridge