top of page
  • Writer's pictureShamsher singh

An array of Journalists killed across the Globe , just for doing their jobs: Reports bare it all

“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault.”

Times are threatening for journalists. Authoritarian regimes are cracking down with increasing fervor against pro-democracy movements in their countries — with freedom of speech as a collateral casualty. In democracies such as India , populists and conspiracy theorists are increasingly threatening press freedoms, particularly during the Farmer’s protest, or agitation by the Unemployed youth . The same scenario also prevailed in democracies like the United States and in Europe, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Press Institute (IPI) on Wednesday, December 29, uncovered that 45 journalists have been killed across the world in 2021, according to its annual Death Watch list. The most dangerous countries are Mexico, once again — with seven — Afghanistan and India with six journalists killed. and then the Democratic Republic of Congo with a tally of 3 killed in 2021." What is shocking to note is that of the 45 journalists killed, the IPI has classified 28 of them as being targeted for their work based on the Institute’s own research and investigation. Adding to the tally, three journalists were killed while covering conflict, two while covering civil unrest and one while on duty – all displaying the innate perils of the profession. The organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also sounded the alarm in its recent report roundup of violence and abuse suffered by journalists. Its press freedoms report concludes that ever more media professionals are being indiscriminately arrested while doing their job. Some 65 journalists are considered kidnapped, with the majority of the abductions in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The report also clarifies that 103 of those numbered are not professional journalists; they are activists who express their views on social media. For their work operating cameras, 22 people are in custody. The statistics presented by various agencies has nerve-wracking insinuations on press freedom and, according to the IPI report, “reaffirms journalists safety as a global challenge”. This exceptional swell in subjective targeting is mostly characteristic of the so-called democracies where governments are indifferent to their citizens' constitutional rights and try to impose their own authoritative regulations. The enormousness of these figures is also tell-tale of an progressively persistent clampdown on independent media and free journalism A group of UN experts on human rights recently issued a statement, saying that “threats to the safety of journalists, far from abating, have taken new forms in the digital age, especially for women journalists.” As per their opinions, the failure to investigate and address attacks online has real-life consequences for women journalists, affecting their mental and physical health. According to the reports of RSF, never before had they registered such a high number of detained female journalists: 60 are currently in prison because of their work – a third more than in 2020. Not only does this increase illustrate the fact that more and more women work as journalists and are not immune to the repression faced by the entire profession, but it is also indicative of certain regional characteristics. The death of Gauri Lankesh, which was connected with online violence impelled by right-wing extremism, is one such bone chilling example of the fact that misogyny and online violence are a real threat to women's participation in journalism in the digital age. Akin to the case, what has been drawing international attention these days are the risks faced by another Indian journalist who is openly critical of her government: Rana Ayyub. She has faced mass circulation of rape and death threats online alongside false information designed to counter her critical reporting, discredit her, and place her at greater physical risk. Directing the occurrence of a particular design, the targeting of Ayyub led five United Nations special rapporteurs to intervene in her defense. Their statement drew parallels with Lankesh’s case, and called on India’s political leaders to act to protect Ayyub, stating: “We are highly concerned that the life of Rana Ayyub is at serious risk following these graphic and disturbing threats.” The official twitter handle UN Geneva stands for her and says it all The experts, the UN said, "pointed to the attacks as being a result of her reporting on issues affecting minority Muslims in the country, her criticism of the Government for its handling of the pandemic and her comments on the recent ban on hijabs in schools and colleges in Karnataka". Citing anonymous death and rape threats, the UN said, "The lack of condemnation and proper investigation by the government, coupled with the legal harassment it has itself inflicted on Ms Ayyub, has only served to falsely legitimise the attacks and attackers and further endangered her safety”. It's both a genuine gender equality struggle, and a freedom of expression crisis that needs to be taken very seriously by all those involved. We believe that collaborative, comprehensive, research-informed solutions are increasingly urgent. Speaking of freedom of press, the World Press Freedom Index 2021 published by the international journalism not-for-profit body was released The latest index released on Tuesday ranks 180 countries, topped, yet again, by Norway followed by Finland and Denmark, while Eritrea is at the bottom. India is ranked 142, same as last year, after it had consistently slid down from 133 in 2016. If you are an Indian citizen , this shouldn’t be news to you . If the attack and forced imprisonment on the basis of preventive detention and custodial torture on the journalist covering , CAA NRC , Farmer’s protests , Kashmir exodus , JNU student associations isn’t enough to prove the depleting rank of my country , my only hope would be the victims telling their stories themselves as the street vendors here put the national newspapers to good use . Union Minister for Information and Broadcast Prakash Javadekar had tweeted “Media in India enjoy absolute freedom. We will expose, sooner than later, those surveys that tend to portray bad picture about ‘Freedom of Press’ in India.” The audacity and white lies are as scary as the repercussions of exercising the freedom of speech and expression here. The freedom of press is limited to actors asking the Prime minister his ways of eating a mango and the secret of his energy. The politicians seem to put up a show of being acceptive of criticism but a stand up act becomes an earthquake underneath fragile nationalism. Independence is a cornerstone of reliability. Journalism operates to fulfill two social requirements — what is in public interest and what the public is interested in — in a manner where issues of public interest are not subsumed by the dictates of what the public is interested in. The media is important not only for democracy but for the pursuit of justice in general. ‘Discussion less justice’ can be an incarcerating idea.

- Jasdev singh



bottom of page