Protecting the media community against growing tendency of impunity in India.(Detail Page)

Protecting the media community against growing tendency of impunity in India.

National Union of Journalist(I)
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Mr Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of the Republic of India,
New Delhi, India.
Mr. Syed Akaruddin 
Permanent Representative of India to the UN – 
Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, 
UN Resident Coordinator, 
India - Email:
Mr Shigeru Aoyagi 
Director and UNESCO Representative to India 
Subject : Protecting the media community against growing tendency of impunity in India. 
Dear Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, 
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its global affiliates including the National Union of Journalists – India (NUJI), the Indian Journalists Union (IJU)  and the All India Newspaper Employees Federation (AINEF would like to draw your attention to the critical issue of impunity for crimes against the working journalists in India. 
As the world marks the UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists globally today, the IFJ and its affiliates express grave concerns for the safety of journalists in the country. In 2015 so far, six journalists – including three in the Uttar Pradesh – have been brutally murdered. This apart, India has seen 31 murders of journalists since 2010 and 83 since 1990 and most of these cases are work related.  Yet, impunity reigns high as India’s record on punishing the murderers of journalists is dismal.
The gruesome murder of Jagendra Singh in Uttar Pradesh is a glaring example of the treatment that journalists in India go through while reporting critically. Singh, who regularly posted on Facebook write-ups on corrupt deeds of State minister Ram Murti Verma,was allegedly set aflame by a police party during a raid in his home on June 1, 2015 and a week later he succumbed to his burn injuries. Singh’s family registered a criminal case against Verma, his four associates and four policemen, but not much progress has been made on the case. The other two journalists murdered this year in the State are Sanjay Pathak, beaten to death in August, and Hemant Kumar Yadav, shot and killed in October.
Another journalist who lost his life for reporting illegal activities is Sandeep Kothari, a 40-year-old journalist of Madhya Pradesh. Kothari’s half-burnt body was found after two days after his abduction. He was reportedly killed for his extensive reporting on illegal mining. In November, 2014, MVN Shankar, a 53-year-old reporter of vernacular Andra Prabha was attacked by three unidentified assailants with iron rods and sticks in front of his residence in Guntur. He succumbed to the injuries a day later. Shankar was killed for his series of reportage against mafia of illegally selling rationed essential items supplied through Public Distribution System in black market. 
These are just a few new cases that have been addedto the pile of unsolved cases of journalist killings going back two and half decades. Two unidentified gunmen shot dead editor, Parvaz Mohammad Sultan, while he was giving final touches to his daily bulletin in 2003 in Jammu and Kashmir in 2003. The motive behind Parvaz’s killing continues to remain a mystery. This is true with the killing of 10 other journalists since the separatist movement began in Kashmir in 1989. 
The IFJ believes that you are fully aware of the 2015 Special Report by the Press Council of India that noted ‘among 80 cases of journalist murders since 1990, justice has been delivered in only one case – that of gang-rape of a female journalist in Mumbai. In most of the cases, the matter is either pending in the courts or the police are yet to file charge sheets.
The safety situation and growing intolerance in the country has degraded at an alarming rate in recent years prompting the NUJ(I) and IJU to demand a separate law for the protection of journalists and speedy prosecution in cases of murders. The IFJ supports NUJ(I) and IJU in its demands to ensure the safety and security of India’s media fraternity. 
The IFJ believes that impunity remains a serious problem in India, not only in conflict-prone areas but across the country. The world’s biggest democracy should not get embedded in a culture of impunity. To  safeguard the democratic values on which India is founded, it’s essential that the Union and  State governments act to protect freedom of expression and prosecute those responsible violating it.
We acknowledge India’s response in 2012 to the UNESCO Director-General’s report ‘The Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity ‘ but the issue of impunity remains, so actions need to follow on from words.
In the context, the IFJ and its affiliates the NUJ(I), the IJU and the AINEF recommend following actions to combat the situation to ensure journalists constitutionally guaranteed rights and justice to the slain journalists:-
1. Promulgation of a media safety law for the protection of journalists with widest possible consultations with journalists associations including the NUJI, the IJU,  and the AINEF. The law should also include a provision for the special prosecutor, at State and Union levels, for the speedy investigation and prosecution in the cases of murders of journalists. The law should also provide for mandating institutional measures and protections, including by employers, to journalism practitioners, support for investigations against attackers and their prosecution, and uniform compensation packages for families of the deceases, as well as medical and legal aid.
2. Investigation into the cases of all journalists killed in India since 1990 and pursuit in the courts of their relevant provinces – to provide long-awaited justice to their families. 
3. The families of slain journalists be awarded appropriate compensation and financial assistance to minimise their miseries. 
4. Implementation of the recommendations by the Press Council of India (PCI) on the safety of journalists and the prosecution of the cases of murders of journalists.
5. Declare November 2 will be officially marked and observed every year as the ‘National Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ to coincide with the declaration by the UN. 
6. Timely constitution of the Wage Board and the implementation of its recommendations.
7. Set up a Media Council covering both print and electronic media after widest possible consultations with all the representative bodies of media persons, including those of owners, editors and working journalists as well as eminent persons from other relevant fields like law, literature and education. The Council should be constituted with equitable representation to all representative bodies.
8. Alternative amend the current Press Council Act (1978) to include electronic media in the Press Council of India. 
9. It is recommended that journalists working in conflict areas be provided safety kits so that they could safely perform their duties. This has already been promised by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry but yet to be materialised. 
The IFJ,  the NUJI,  the IJU and the AINEF urge your Excellency and the Government of the Republic of India to reaffirm your commitment to freedom of expression and the protection of journalists. 
India’s poor record on journalism safety and justice to slain journalists needs immediate action from your Government. Enshrined in India’s Constitution is the right to freedom of expression, access to information and the safety and security of individuals. All of which are compromised by the culture of impunity that is rife across the country. 
We thank you in anticipation of unflinching support and offer any assistance that can help in this regard and promote a safer environment for journalists in India.
Yours sincerely,
(Ras Bihari) (Ratan Dixit)
President Secretary General


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    New Delhi, India.
    Mr. Syed Akaruddin 
    Permanent Representative of India to the UN – 
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