By Ubair ul Hameed
Five of the seven journalists who are currently jailed in India, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report for 2022, are Muslims, with four of them hailing from Kashmir.
In the report titled “Number of jailed journalists spikes to new global record ” the organization said that India faced criticism “over its treatment of the media, in particular its use of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, a preventive detention law, to keep Kashmiri journalists Aasif Sultan, Fahad Shah, and Sajad Gul behind bars after they were granted court-ordered bail in separate cases.”
The report also mentioned Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Siddique Kappan, and Manan Dar among the journalists who are behind the bars under India’s anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
According to the report, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual prison census found that 363 reporters were deprived of their freedom as of December 1, 2022. The organization called it “a new global high” that overtook last year’s record by 20% and marked “another grim milestone in a deteriorating media landscape.”
The CPJ said Iran, China, Myanmar, Turkey, and Belarus, are the “year’s top five jailers of journalists”.
According to the organization, governments’ increasingly used oppressive efforts to stifle the media “to keep the lid on broiling discontent in a world disrupted by COVID-19 and the economic fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine.”
The CPJ also mentioned ”the ongoing repression of minorities” in it’s report.
“Imprisoning journalists is just one measure of how authoritarian leaders try to strangle press freedom,” the organization said in the report.
The organization said that governments are also honing tactics like “fake news” laws, and are using criminal defamation and vaguely worded legislation to criminalize journalism.
The report further said that rule of law and the judicial system are being abused in several countries, and the governments are exploiting technology to spy on reporters and their families.
“In countries ranging from Russia to Nicaragua to Afghanistan, independent media outlets have been gutted as reporters flee into exile or are intimidated into self-censorship,” the report said.
The organization further said that “suppressive strategies differ between countries” but the cases documented “share a common thread of official cruelty and vindictiveness.”