Many journalists in India continue to face death threats, attacks and false charges “just for doing their work”, the human rights organisation Amnesty International said on Wednesday, the first anniversary of journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder.
“Gauri Lankesh’s death anniversary is an occasion for us to introspect on how people who expose the truth, including journalists and whistleblowers, are increasingly under attack in India,” Amnesty India Executive Director Aakar Patel said. “While it is heartening that the investigation into Gauri Lankesh’s murder seems to be progressing, investigations into several other attacks on journalists and whistleblowers have yielded precious little. It is a dangerous time for anyone who speaks truth to power in India.”
Amnesty quoted a Reporters Without Borders report which said that at least four journalists have been killed in India this year until June while three others have been physically attacked. “Several other journalists have received threats for journalism that is critical of the state,” the NGO said.
“Be it the arrest of [activists] Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao, or the murder of several other journalists, attacks on journalism in India not only stifle the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression but also have a profound silencing effect,” Patel said. “Journalism cannot be suppressed by those refusing to acknowledge the truth.”
Amnesty also quoted a Committee for the Protection of Journalists survey, which ranked India 12th in its 2017 Global Impunity Index. The index ranks countries where murders of journalists are least likely to invite legal prosecution. The NGO also deplored the Indian government’s move to dilute the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2014, which has not yet been operationalised.