International Press Institute calls for action to protect Press freedom
The International Press Institute (IPI) global network has called for action to protect freedom of the press and the safety of journalists
The IPI made the call in commemoration of the 2022 International Human Rights Day amid the rise in attacks on independent journalism
In a statement published on its website, the Institute joined print and online media outlets in South Asia; Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan to launch an ad campaign aimed at raising public awareness about the need to protect press freedom as an essential pillar of democracy and human rights.
“The ads will run in The Daily Stae in Bangladesh, in The Wire, Scroll in and the News Minute in India, in Dawn in Pakistan, and Nagarik (in Nepali) and myRepublica (in English) in Nepal. This campaign is part of IPI’s ongoing cross border project that brings together partner media outlets in these countries to create public awareness about attacks on journalists and to highlight the erosion of press freedom across the region,” the statement read in part.
The IPI disclosed that many journalists have been arrested under anti-terrorism and other criminal laws in India
“There has been an alarming deterioration of press freedom in India since the nationalist conservative Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.
“Journalists’ work is also greatly hindered by internet shutdown in India, where the government in 2021 ordered the world’s highest number of network shutdowns for the fourth year running, Impunity for attacks and crimes against journalists in India is unacceptably high. It takes years before cases make it to trial when they are investigated at all.”
The Institute lamented that although lawmakers in Pakistan recently passed national and regional legislation aimed at protecting the safety of journalists impunity for attacks against journalists remains high.
“An estimated 96 percent of cases of killed journalists have gone unpunished. This includes the killing of Shan Dahar, bureau chief for Abb Takk Television channel in the Larkana district of Pakistan’s Sindh province, who was shot dead on January 1, 2014. An initial police investigation claimed the death was the result of stray gunfire, but Dahar’s colleagues and family believe he was targeted for his journalistic work.”
According to the IPI, attacks in Bangladesh stifle press freedom
“In Bangladesh, draconian laws restricting the work of independent journalism are choking press freedom and democracy.”
The Institute added that Journalists in Nepal faced intense pressure in the lead-up to the general election in November
“As authorities tightened controls over online media and attacks against journalists and media outlets increased. These pressures came amid an already fragile environment for press freedom in Nepal, where journalists operate in an uncertain and intimidating environment and regularly face threats, restrictive laws and arrests.“
Meanwhile, the European Union has also expressed concerns about the deteriorating human rights in Russia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Ethiopia and Myanmar.
In a statement published on Friday by the European Council via its website, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell said; “This year we have witnessed particularly serious attacks on human rights, on a massive scale, ranging from Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine that has caused and continues to cause inconceivable human suffering,
“The EU will continue to monitor, raise attention to and take decisive action in international fora to combat and prevent human rights violations and abuses, and to support international initiatives to hold all perpetrators to account.
“The EU stands by and supports human rights defenders and civil society organizations around the world.“
On the upcoming 24th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum which serves as a platform to engage with human rights defenders across the globe, Borrell disclosed that discussions would focus on best practices of putting an end to impunity and ensuring access to justice and accountability for human rights violations and abuses.
“On Human Rights Day, we commit to re-double our efforts to stand with and speak out for the oppressed and those under threat, wherever they may live,” he added.
10 December is Human Rights Day which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
This day serves as an opportunity to recall that human rights are universal, indivisible, inalienable, interdependent and interrelated