PRESS RELEASE-IFJ Demands Justice for Journalist Dismissed after Filing Harassment Complaint #Vaw


 

Media Release: India                                                                                       

April 4, 2013         

 IFJ Demands Justice for Journalist Victimised after Filing Harassment Complaint

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins partners and affiliates in demanding justice and fair treatment for S. Akila, a journalist placed under suspension by the Sun TV news channel based in the southern Indian city of Chennai, after she filed sexual harassment complaints against two of her seniors in the organisation.

According to information provided by the Network of Women in Media, India, Akila joined Sun TV in its Chennai headquarters in December 2011 as a news anchor and producer and faced, from that moment on, extraordinary pressures on the job. Two of her immediate seniors were reportedly explicit in the demands she would be expected to fulfill.

Refusal to comply led to Akila’s probation being extended, her earned perks – such as the annual bonus – being denied, and finally, to her being threatened with “dire consequences” if she went public with the situation she faced. Despite a time-honoured convention that women would not be put on shifts at odd times of the 24×7 news cycle, she was soon assigned as anchor for the 6 a.m. news bulletin, requiring her to report at work an hour ahead.

After repeated protests failed to fetch any relief, Akila on 19 March, filed a complaint of sexual harassment with the nearest police station. Her two immediate seniors, both named in the complaint, were soon afterwards arrested and charged under the relevant law applicable in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Akila reportedly began receiving threatening telephone calls afterwards. A male colleague who had supported her struggle against harassment was soon afterwards placed under suspension. On 25 March, Akila reported for work at her appointed time but was not allowed to anchor the noon news bulletin she was assigned to. A day later, one of the men named in her complaint rejoined Sun TV after securing bail.

Akila was served an order of suspension the following day.

“We are shocked at this sequence of events in one of India’s largest and most diversified media conglomerates”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

“The IFJ demands a quick and impartial inquiry into the entire range of circumstances leading to Akila’s dismissal from her job and prompt restitution for the mental trauma she has suffered.

“The news organisation that has permitted this manner of exploitative culture to flourish should without further delay, hold out reassurances to all its female employees and institute strict sanctions against any further recurrence of such behaviour”.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter@ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebookwww.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific 

 

Media Release: Bail Granted for Indian Journalist, but Worries Persist Over Political Pressures


Media Release: India

February 25, 2013

Bail Granted for Indian Journalist, but Worries Persist Over Political
Pressures

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the grant of bail
to senior journalist
http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-deeply-concerned-over-criminal-c
harges-against-indian-investigative-reporter> K.K. Shahina, in the southern
Indian state of Karnataka after a hearing in a district court on 22
February.

Shahina, who currently works for Open magazine in the state of Kerala, south
of Karnataka, faces charges of criminal intimidation of witnesses following
a story she wrote for the weekly magazine Tehelka. The story which appeared
in December 2010 cast doubt on the charges of terrorism brought against a
prominent Islamic cleric from Kerala state.

Facing the possibility of arrest since January 2011, Shahina was granted
anticipatory bail by the Karnataka High Court in July 2011. Following
summons issued after charges were formally laid against her in January this
year, Shahina appeared before a court in Somwarpet in Kodagu district of
Karnataka, to renew her bail.

IFJ sources indicate that the courtroom where the bail hearing was scheduled
was besieged by activists of the right-wing political group, the Bajrang
Dal, on 22 February, just as Shahina made her appearance.

Shahina and friends, who accompanied her to the hearing, were reportedly
threatened by the Bajrang Dal activists who also insisted that a
cameraperson show them the visuals he had recorded, to ensure that they
could not be identified in public.

The IFJ joins partners in India in urging the authorities in Karnataka state
to ensure that conditions for a fair trial are maintained.

“We see this prosecution as an effort to silence fair and independent
reporting through legal injunction and harassment”, said the IFJ
Asia-Pacific.

“If the victimisation of a journalist is further compounded by an atmosphere
of fear and intimidation created in the environs of the courtroom hearing
her case, then we fear the likely chilling effect this could have on free
and fair reporting”.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on  +612 9333 0950

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/ifjasiapacific>
@ifjasiapacific

 

Press Release- #India- Legal challenge threatens the release of journalist , Naveen Soorinje


February 8, 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned to learn of a
legal challenge to the decision to drop charges against
http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-continuing-detention-of
-indian-journalist-naveen-soorinje> Naveen Soorinje, now under arrest for
over three months on charges of involvement in a July 2012 vigilante attack
on a group of partying teenagers in the city of Mangalore, in the southern
Indian state of Karnataka.

Soorinje, who is a reporter for the Kasturi TV channel based in Mangalore,
was alerted to the possibility of an attack by local witnesses and arrived
at the site soon after activists of a group that styles itself as the Hindu
Jagaran Vedike began assembling. According to the testimony he has filed
both before the police investigators and a civil rights organisation based
in Karnataka, he was unsure initially about the intentions of the group that
had gathered. As soon as the attack began, he made efforts to inform local
police authorities, while a cameraman who accompanied him recorded the
violent events – footage that was later used by police to identify the
perpetrators.

Soorinje pleas for bail were rejected and his arrest resulted in widespread
protests in November 2012. In a review of Soorinje’s case on January 31,
the cabinet in Karnataka state decided to drop all charges. But with the
cabinet decision awaiting the signature of the chief minister of Karnataka,
a lawyer based in the state capital of Bengaluru made a plea to the high
court that the decision to drop the charges was illegal.

The high court has since, issued notice to the state government and
suggested that if charges against Soorinje are dropped, the court may order
their reinstatement.

“We are seriously concerned at this move to further detain Soorinje” said
the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

“Journalists cannot be held responsible to stop civil unrest or illegal
activities. To pursue the case against him any further would be a serious
deterrent to journalists in conscientiously carry out their professional
responsibility to report cases of civil unrest or illegal activities.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on  +612 9333 0950

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/ifjasiapacific>
@ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific>
www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific

 

IFJ Deeply Concerned over Criminal Charges against Indian Investigative Reporter


Media Release: India

January 15, 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is extremely concerned to learn of the criminal charges filed against investigative reporter K.K. Shahina by police in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Shahina, who currently works with the weekly magazine Open, faces charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy and intimidation of witnesses with intent to commit a crime. The chargesheet filed in the sessions court in the district of Kodagu in Karnataka state, also indicts her under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which is most commonly invoked to deal with terrorist offences.

These charges stem from a story published under Shahina’s byline in the weekly magazine Tehelka in December 2010, which appeared to cast doubt on the prosecution of a prominent Islamic cleric and political figure on terrorism charges.

Shahina who then worked as correspondent for Tehelka in the state of Kerala, based her story on interviews with key witnesses in the case against Abdul Nasar Mahdani, an Islamic cleric who heads the Peoples’ Democratic Party, active mainly in the state of Kerala. Mahdani has since been arrested and charged by Karnataka police for conspiracy to detonate a series of low-intensity bomb blasts in the state capital city of Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) in July 2008.

Shahina’s story cited several of the witnesses named by the Karnataka police as saying that their testimony has been misinterpreted or distorted in making out the charges against Mahdani.

In March 2011, Shahina was honoured with the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding woman media person. The awards citation mentioned her investigative work in defence of civil liberties, among other contributions.

Facing the possibility of arrest since January 2011, Shahina approached the district court in Kodagu for anticipatory bail, but was turned down. It was only in July 2011 that the Karnataka High Court granted her provisional immunity from arrest. With charges now formally registered in the sessions court, she will be required to appeal for renewal of her bail and also travel from her base of Kochi city in Kerala, to Madikeri in Kodagu district for every hearing.

The IFJ calls on the authorities in Karnataka state to reconsider their intent to prosecute Shahina, whose work has been an example of investigative journalism in the cause of civil liberties.

“We see this prosecution as an instance of seeking to silence fair and independent reporting through legal injunction. We fear that the process of the law, with the demands it makes on the time and energy of the defendant, is often punishment in itself and will severely impair this journalist’s professional effectiveness.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific

 

Indian Photo-Journalist, Tarun Sehrawat, Dies at 22 #Tehelka


June 18,2012

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its affiliates and partners in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), are deeply grieved at the death on June 15 of photo-journalist Tarun Sehrawat, after he contracted multiple infections on assignment in the Abujmarh region of India’s Chhattisgarh state.

 

Sehrawat was on assignment with the weekly news and current affairs magazine Tehelka and with his colleague, reporter Tusha Mittal, spent a week early in May in the thickly forested area, believed to be among the main operational bases of the Maoist insurgency that has been active in parts of Chhattisgarh and neighbouring states in recent years.

 

Their account of life in an area that remains for the most part beyond the media gaze was published in the print edition of the magazine dated May 12.

 

Both Sehrawat and Mittal came down with severe infections and fevers at about the same time. Mittal recovered after two weeks under intensive care but Sehrawat was hit by a combination of jaundice, typhoid and malaria, and had slipped into a coma. He regained consciousness early in June, but suffered a severe cerebral haemorrhage on June 10. He died on June 15 aged 22, the cause of death identified as cerebral malaria.

 

Tarun Sehrawat’s portfolio of pictures from his final assignment in Abujmarh can be viewed here.

 

In mourning the loss of a dedicated young professional, the IFJ urges the news industry to pay heed to the imperatives of care and preparation, when assigning reporters to areas of potential safety risk and health hazard.

 

“We urge renewed attention to the code evolved by the International News Safety Institute and widely endorsed by news industry managements”.

 

Titled “Surviving the Story”, the code observes by way of preface, that the “preservation of life and safety is paramount”.

 

“Staff and freelancers equally should be made aware”, it goes on, “that unwarranted risks in pursuit of a story are unacceptable and strongly discouraged. News organisations are urged to consider safety first, before competitive advantage, for journalists in hostile environments.”

 

The safety code requires that “assignments to war and other danger zones must be voluntary and only involve experienced news gatherers and those under their direct supervision.”

 

Employers are responsible under the code, for providing “efficient safety equipment and medical and health safeguards appropriate to the threat to all staff and freelancers assigned to hazardous locations”.

 

“We appreciate that Tarun Sehrawat and his colleague volunteered for this assignment and that the Tehelka team took all decisions in good faith and the belief that an important public interest was served in getting the story out of a region that few media persons venture into”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

 

“We urge that in future, all such decisions be made after due deliberation over the risks and the consequences involved”.

 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific