Legal Defence of Journalists Initiative
Despite the growth in the number of newspapers, TV channels and increased access to the web space; freedom of speech and expression which is a fundamental right enshrined in the Indian Constitution (from which the freedom of the press and media derives) is being greatly compromised in India. Three powerful forces – the state, corporate interests, and religious/nationalist extremist forces – seek to abridge, compromise and muzzle the free voice of the media. The attempts to throttle the freedom of expression also continue. Extreme right-wing organizations have attacked media offices frequently in the past few years. Prominent Journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Karnataka. Senior Journalist Malini Subramanium was attacked in her house in Chhattisgarh. Senior journalists like Sai Reddy in Chhattsigarh, Lenin Kumar in Orissa, have also spent several years in prison for raising their voices against the atrocities of their respective state police and governments. Seema Azad[journalist] was in judicial custody in UP in 2010 and in West Bengal Swapan Das Gupta (a prominent journalist) died while in custody in 2009. While powerful forces file cases against journalists, they receive scant support from media organizations. Stringers are intimidated, harassed by petty government officials and their organisations and fellow journalists too are helpless to support them.
The condition of social media users and bloggers in India is no better. 125 million Indians use the Internet; 60 million Indians use Facebook; and India ranks first in the number of Facebook users ahead of the U.S. and Brazil. However the civil rights of the social media users and bloggers are increasingly in the firing line.
Human rights activists in India have also come under repeated attacks in recent times. Right to information (RTI) activists have been killed and a number of civil rights activists have been implicated and imprisoned in false cases using oppressive draconian laws. There is an urgent need to protect and defend the human rights activists/institutions, especially journalists in India today. Click here for a list of attacks on Indian journalists between 2012 and 2015.
For more details, cases and publications on The Legal Defence of Journalists, please visit this page.
PIL's & Cases
Slideshow - PIL's and Cases
What HRLN Does
The initiative aims to create a nationwide network of journalists and other human rights defenders working on different issues. In this regard, the centre helps various local and regional organizations is conducting consultation and preliminary meetings to discuss the modalities of defending the defenders at local and regional levels. Our activities include emergency response, extending solidarity, issuing action alerts, contacting Human Rights Commissions, providing legal aid/guidance, medical help and documentation of the cases of attacks on HRDs.
- Threat and actual physical assault of journalists and human rights defenders, in many cases leading up to murder for carrying out the duty
- Illegal arrest or detention of journalists and human rights defenders
- Illegal termination of services of journalists at mass levels owing to corporate takeover and government intimidation
- Increased number of defamation and sedition cases against journalists who dare to question the authority or criticise it in any way
- Use of blackouts and other strategies as weapons of mass intimidation to foster the climate of self-censorship
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Slideshow - Read.