Indian journalist Neha Dixit among recipients of International Press Freedom Award

Two criminal cases were filed against Delhi-based journalist Neha Dixit after her report in 2016 on trafficking of 31 tribal girls from the Northeast by two Sangh Parivar organisations to “Hinduise” them.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Indian journalist Neha Dixit was one of several recipients of the 2019 International Press Freedom Awards, awarded by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-profit organization whose aim is to enable journalists to work without the fear of reprisal.

Ms. Dixit, a Delhi-based journalist who reports on politics, social justice and gender in South Asia, has faced harassment both online and offline for her work, which includes reports on child trafficking by Hindu nationalist organizations, madrasas in Delhi, and the use of child soldiers by Maoist groups, as per a video released by CPJ.

Two criminal cases were filed against Ms. Dixit after her report in 2016 on the trafficking of 31 tribal girls from the Northeast by two Sangh Parivar organisations to “Hinduise” them.

Ms. Dixit has also received threats from top police officers for her stories on extra-judicial killings, she said in her acceptance speech.

“The last couple of years have been about endless follow-ups on legal cases, death threats and rape threats…complete with descriptions on how it should be conducted on my body ... A journalist has to put things on the table, be critical of government schemes and policies. But if you criticise the government you’re seen as somebody who is anti-national”, Ms. Dixit said.

The other awardees were Patricia Mello, a Brazilian journalist,  who was attacked online for writing critical stories in 2018 of the then presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro; Lucia Ubau and Miguel Mora of Nicaraguan broadcaster 100% Noticias who were jailed for six months for covering unrest; and Maxence Mubyazi, co-founder of an online Tanzanian discussion platform, who has been charged under the country’s cybercrime laws and had to appear in court 81 times, as per CPJ.

Editor of Pakistani newspaper Dawn, Zaffar Abbas, won CPJ's 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. The newspaper and its reporters have frequently come under government pressure, the CPJ said.

“Nations are becoming far less tolerant of an independent press,” said American journalist Shep Smith, who hosted the evening. Mr. Smith said governments have devised less crude techniques to stifle journalists and censor their work.

“Concentration of media ownership, whether directly by government or through corporate cronies, has narrowed the choice of independent news sources from China to Hungary,” he said.

“Restrictive licensing regulations, cybercrime laws, and false news laws are increasingly being applied to online journalism, and to independent blogging and social media users, often with harsher penalties than their offline equivalents,” Courtney Radsch, a director at CPJ, told The Hindu.

“Without free and fair reporting, there can be no first draft of history ... Without an understanding of our history, there can be no reconciliation and little hope for progress,” said Wa Lone, a Reuters reporter from Myanmar.

Mr. Lone had been jailed by authorities from December 2017 to May this year, along with his colleague Kway Soe Oo, who was also present at the awards. The two had been reporting on the massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys in the Rakhine state.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 6:40:59 AM |

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