CPJ calls on EU to hold India accountable to curb press freedom

Brussels:  The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the European External Action Service to hold Indian authorities accountable for widespread and severe press freedom violations when they meet for the annual India-EU Human Rights Dialogue on Friday, July 15 (today).

CPJ’s EU representative Tom Gibson said, “The dialogue should be an opportunity for the EU to raise press freedom abuses with the Indian government led by the Hindu Right-wing BJP.”

He added, “As India seeks to gloss over its abysmal press freedom record, EU must unequivocally condemn its harsh crackdown on journalists and media organizations and make clear, verifiable demands, including the release of arbitrarily detained journalists. EU should question, what type of relationship it is building if critical journalists in India and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir cannot report without risking harassment, detention, abuse or even death.”

Gibson also called on EU to ask India for action on the following press freedom violations and attacks on journalists documented by CPJ: Authorities’ use of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, a preventive detention law, to keep Kashmiri journalists Aasif Sultan, Fahad Shah, and Sajad Gul behind bars after they were granted bail by the court in separate cases.

According to news reports, The ongoing pretrial detention of Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Siddique Kappan, and Manan Dar under India’s draconian anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.  Navlakha and Teltumbde are detained in ‘anda’ (‘egg’) cells, akin to solitary confinement. In June 2022, Delhi Police arrested outspoken Muslim journalist Mohammed Zubair, himself an advocate against hate speech and disinformation, for a satirical Tweet.

On July 12, 2022, the Uttar Pradesh Police formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe six cases registered against Zubair in the state. There are particular risks facing journalists from minority communities, including Muslims, when reporting on sectarian discrimination and violence. According to CPJ research, at least 20 female Muslim journalists were listed “for sale” in the notorious Bulli Bai App.

CPJ’s 2021 annual prison census found that seven journalists were detained in India and IIOJK as of December 2021, setting the country’s record for the highest number of detained journalists since 1992. India has already been destined. Even, UN has exposed India’s true face by publishing a report on the use of excessive force against journalists and Human Rights activists.

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