Press Release

SAMDEN urges independent investigation into Danish Siddiqui’s death

New Delhi, 19 July 2021: Urging governments and human rights bodies to strengthen their commitment towards the safety and security of journalists as frontline defenders, the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) today called for an independent investigation into the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui in Afghanistan. “The details on this tragic death of a Reuters photojournalist, while covering clashes between Afghan security forces and the Taliban, are murky and inconclusive. Siddiqui’s family, admirers of his work and aspiring journalists who look up him deserve clarity and more information on the circumstances under which he died,” it said. SAMDEN, a group of more than 60 journalists from South Asia that is anchored in the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), expressed condolences for Siddiqui’s death, remembering the brilliance of his journalism and the dedication to capture the life and

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SAMDEN condemns arrest of Bangladeshi and Manipuri Journalists

May 21, 2021, New Delhi – Prominent editors and media professionals of South Asia called for the release of senior Bangladeshi reporter Rozina Islam of Prothom Alo, who was charged under a century-old colonial law – the Official Secrets Act, 1923 – and the Penal Code of Bangladesh for highlighting alleged irregularities in Bangladesh’s health sector.  Professional journalists provide a public service by ensuring that credible information, analysis and views reach large audiences – online, offline and broadcast – even during the ongoing devastating pandemic and health emergency, said SAMDEN. This needs to be encouraged as part of an open and free ecosystem. “In the absence of concreate evidence of a recognisable criminal offence, Rozina’s arrest for reporting that apparently revealed the corruption and mismanagement in Bangladesh’s health sector is reflective of a new normal in South Asia where authorities

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SAMDEN urges Pakistan govt to act swiftly in killing of TV anchor

Sept 8, 2020New Delhi, India The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) today called on Pakistani authorities to take firm action in the killing of Shaheena Shaheen, a TV talk show host and editor, in Balochistan province. Police in the Balochi town of Turbat said that they were hunting for Ms. Shaheen’s husband, Nawabzada Mehrab Khan Gichki, who allegedly fired at her on Saturday at a relative’s home. The motive for the alleged shooting was not known. Ms Shaheen worked for Pakistan television and edited a local Baloch magazine called Dazghar. “We urge the provincial government of Balochistan and authorities in Pakistan to take strong action to bring the killer/s of Ms. Shaheen to justice,” the network said. Pakistan was ranked 145 of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Sans Frontiers, which measures the safety and

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North East India’s oldest broadsheet is victim of pandemic, SAMDEN urges need to ensure no other extraneous factors barring health in closure

Aug 25, 2020New Delhi,India Last week, COVID-19 claimed an unlikely victim: The Shillong Times, North East India’s oldest broadsheet newspaper, was ordered by the Government of Meghalaya, under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and the Meghalaya Epidemic Diseases, Regulations 2020, to close its office premises. The government order came after four persons working in The Shillong Times office premises performing non-journalistic functions reportedly tested positive. The order has required the closure of all shopping establishments, government and private institutions located within the boundary of the containment area, and banned movement by all inhabitants. Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times, said: “The management had allowed desk staff to work from home. Some were also provided desktop computers to enable them to work from home. As editor I also worked from home since March 20, this year. It is difficult to

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SAMDEN: Sierra Leone repeal of defamation law shows govts can create safe media environment

August 6, 2020 New Delhi/Kathmandu/Dhaka/Colombo/Boston, The recent repeal of Sierra Leone’s infamous criminal defamation law marks a major victory for media freedom, even as many journalists continue to be harassed, intimidated and detained for critical COVID-19 reporting, the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) said today. Sierra Leone’s Parliament has unanimously adopted the Independent Media Commission (IMC) Act 2020 replacing Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act (POA) which criminalised any publication that is deemed defamatory or seditious. “At the heart of media freedom is the ability of journalists to receive, produce and share information without facing physical, legal or online threats, to do their work professionally, protected by the laws of the land to uphold freedom of information and expression”, said Sanjoy Hazarika, SAMDEN’s co-convener. Underlining the need for an inclusive safe media environment, Hazarika added that “safety

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Arrests, Beatings and Dismissals of Journalists Underline Official and Corporate Arbitrariness: SAMDEN

May 26, 2020 New Delhi, India The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) today cited detention of media professionals in Bangladesh, attacks on journalists in the Punjab, and the dismissal of a pregnant reporter in Assam state as part of a pattern of official and corporate arbitrariness against media in the region. In Bangladesh, SAMDEN noted that the government of Sheikh Hasina Wajed has used the controversial Digital Security Act (DSA), passed in 2018 amid opposition from national, international media and rights groups, to arrest or charge at least 20 journalists over the past month. In one case, a senior journalist vanished in March after a politician from the governing Awami League party filed a criminal defamation case against him. The reporter mysteriously turned up at the India-Bangladesh border nearly two months later and was slapped with three cases under

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