INDIA GREENS PARTY
Unchir-Dunktok, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, 3 May 2023: Reminding the governments in the country of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom, the India Greens Party (iGP) today regretted that the journalists in India continue to face multiple challenges from open fascism, administrative and police excesses including jailing of journalists, false cases, raids, internet shutdowns, spyware, increasing moves to ‘regulate’ digital social media, trolling, widespread sexism and abuse, besides job losses and the dismantling of labour laws.
In a press statement issued here at the national head office (NHO) of the iGP on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day today, the party said the Day serves as an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom around the world and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The 2023 theme for the day is “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”.
It said surveillance may also harm the safety of journalists by disclosing sensitive private information, which could be used for arbitrary judicial harassment or attack. Surveillance can also expose information gathered by journalists, including from whistle-blowers, and violates the principle of source protection, which is universally considered a prerequisite for freedom of the media and is enshrined in the UN Resolutions.
The party regretted that the endless judicial delays deny the people justice for years together. Yet many fearless media persons carry on speaking truth to power.
The iGP said the World Press Freedom Day reminds governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. The day further serves as an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom around the world and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
In the meanwhile, the iGP expressed anger at the increasing number of attacks on the media and demanded that a comprehensive law be immediately enacted to protect media-persons from arbitrary arrests and prosecutions, so that they can fearlessly fight for and uphold free speech, democracy and press freedom.
“There is also an urgent need for a broad-based Media Council for the entire media to replace the ineffective Press Council,” the party added.
The government also needs to look into the plight of approximately 3,000 journalists who lost their jobs in the lockdown during the first wave of Covid-19. Many of them were pushed towards poverty. Legal challenges to some retrenchments are pending in the courts but will take years to yield results. There need to be fast track courts to decide such labour matters.
Proclaimed by the United Nations in 1993, the World Press Freedom Day on May 3 is supposed to act as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. For journalists, the Day is to reflect about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. But the situation, after 30 years, is not at all rosy.
The World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) notes that in 2023 India’s ranking has dropped sharply to 161 out of 180 countries.
In 2022 its rank was 150. RSF had recently warned about a two-fold increase in polarisation. It said media polarisation is fuelling divisions within countries, as well as between countries at the international level. The collapse of many economies after the pandemic has further fuelled polarisation in many countries. The big corporate media has played an active role in creating divisions among people.
India is no different. The corporate media or the “godi” media have pledged total support to the current government and the Hindutva agenda of the RSS. Many TV channels are now owned by corporates aligned with the ruling party. News about corporate corruption, protests by farmers and workers, people’s issues and issues raised by the opposition is often ignored or covered up. Many independent thinking journalists who do not kowtow to those in power have either lost jobs or got sidelined in the process.
Attacks against independent media and independent journalists have increased sharply in recent years. These range from intimidation to physical and ‘legal’ attacks that misuse the law. Trolling, particularly of women journalists, is merciless. Many journalists are being harassed by arbitrary filing of cases and even arrests for doing their job.
On this World Press Freedom Day, we ask the Centre to stop attacks on the media. We urge Parliament and the Judiciary to strike down sedition and defamation laws that are repeatedly used against journalists and other citizens.
– Issued by the IGP Chief Spokesperson Suresh Nautiyal.
(India Greens Party is registered with the Election Commission of India under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Registration Number: 56/476/2018-19/PPS-I, effective from 18/07/2019.)
National Head Office: GreenDham AnandiChait, IndraBalbhadra Parisar, Unchir-Dunktok, PO-Ghurdauri, Patty-Idwalsyun, Distt-Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, INDIA. PIN-246194.