As a journalist myself, the past one week has been uneasy one. 8 days and 4 brazen incidents of journalists getting killed have disturbed me and plenty others in more ways then one. Besides the political card blame game, the apprehension around the trajectory of the increasing number of murders and its aftermath is perhaps more worthy of contemplation.
Global Dilemma for Journalists, Threat to Accountability
From Sweden to Sudan and then to Bihar and Bangalore in India, terror seems to have permeated the global borders. It all started with the mysterious killing of the Swedish journalist, Kim Wall who died after getting hit by a hatch on a homemade submarine. The police investigations have reveled that Wall’s body was deliberately weighed down purposefully with the intent to sink it on the submarine. Then came the news of an American reporter having died in Sudan. Various reports and examinations have bewrayed that Christopher Allen, 26, had been deliberately killed by the government troops in South Sudan during a firefight between rebels and the government forces.
In India, the entire press and media underwent a shock when a renowned journalist named Gauri Lankesh was brutally shot at 7 times at her doorstep in Bangalore. It didn’t end here as the very next day another journalist was killed in Bihar, making it not just a metropolitan but a town problem as well.
Not so surprisingly, the World Press Freedom ranking at Reporters Without Borders in its 2017 report put India at the 136th spot out of 192 countries across the world, making India a not so democratic or rather liberal country when it came to freedom exercised by the journalists.
Apart from this, India has been quite aptly placed as one of the countries on the Impunity Index where more than 50 deaths of journalists have taken place since 1992, out of which 25 plus went through impunity.
(Source: CPJ, Comittee To Protect Journalists)
India’s poor performance is not just limited to the impunity index, but the authorities continue to be indifferent towards the alarming issue as India fails to participate in something known as the UNESCO ‘Impunity Accountability Mechanism’. Quite conveniently, India, failed to respond to UNESCO when asked for a biennial report on the safety of journalists in the country. My country was joined by 2 other ‘troubled’ countries as well- countries which India would never wish to be compared to with regard to the governmental infrastructure and economic growth- South Sudan and Syria.
Statistical research reveals that out of the percentage of reporters who mysteriously or at times openly die, majority are the ones who deal with the coverage over corruption. In more then 40 % of the cases, victims tend to receive threatening calls, as was in Gauri Lankesh’s case. The recurring question, however is- why just 3% of the cases have full justice out of the total cases filed globally?
While impunity could be one angle, many would feel that such cases reach the public forum because of them being related to the media, however it is the statistics mentioned above which may compel you to ponder the skeptical way.
(With inputs from PTI, Committee To Protect Journalists, UNESCO)