Press Release

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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Recognition of fearless work by Pulitzer Prize winning photographers: SAMDEN

May 5, 2020 Delhi/Kathmandu/Dhaka/Colombo/Boston Congratulating the three Indian photojournalists for winning the 2020 Pulitzer prize in the feature photography category for their images of Jammu and Kashmir, the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) described it as a recognition for fearless work under difficult conditions. “Apart from reflecting the challenges and tensions faced by ordinary people as well as by government personnel, their work was truly fearless as they surmounted daily difficulties, in a situation fraught with danger, obstacles and tension,” said SAMDEN, a network of editors, broadcasters, bloggers, media professionals and writers largely from South Asia, anchored in the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). The Pulitzer Prize awards outstanding journalism by US media. The award to the photojournalists, Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand of the Associated Press (AP), also comes at a time when media worldwide has expressed solidarity

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SAMDEN protests actions against Mir Shakilur Rahman and The Wire

April 4, 2020 Delhi/Kathmandu/Dhaka/Colombo/Boston, Leading editors and media professionals from South Asia today protested actions against the media in Pakistan and India: the detention of Pakistani editor and publisher Mir Shakilur Rahman in Lahore and legal action against the independent Indian online portal, The Wire. “The preoccupation of the world public and opinion makers with the COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier for those who want to try and gag critics in the media,” said the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN), which is anchored by co-convenors from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. While the harassment and imprisonment of journalists has been a distressing trend in all the countries of South Asia over the past few years, SAMDEN said, “we have seen a sudden escalation in such actions over the past few weeks”. It described the actions against Rahman

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SAMDEN: The media needs a pro-active protection policy

Feb 26, 2020 New Delhi, India The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) today said that mob attacks on journalists, photographers and media professionals underscored the need to develop robust and pro-active policies and laws to protect the press.  Reporters have been shot at, beaten, abused, surrounded and intimidated as they have gone about mapping the violence that was unleashed by mobs in the North-eastern part of Delhi. Some were threatened by mobs and asked to prove that they were Hindu, others were punched and hit with sticks. One journalist with the Times of India said in a first-person account that she planned to wear a helmet as protection from stone-pelters. The violence stressed the failure of the administration and the police to handle the situation. “Such incidents in Delhi show that even basic reporting has become a dangerous profession,”

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Pakistan: SAMDEN urges independent, impartial probe into journalist’s death

New Delhi, 19 June 2019: The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) joins media groups in calling for an independent and time-bound inquiry into the alleged murder of senior journalist Ilyas Warsi. Groups such as the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the Karachi Press Club and the Rural Media Network Pakistan, among others, have raised questions about the circumstances leading to his death. Mr. Warsi was found dead last Saturday in Hyderabad in Pakistan’s Sindh Province, with “visible signs of torture on his body”, according to news reports. He had long been associated with Kawish, a Sindhi daily newspaper. SAMDEN urges the police and Syed Murad Ali Shah, the Chief Minister of Sindh, to investigate the death on an urgent basis. The inquiry should establish whether the killing was linked to his work as a journalist.  The country’s authorities need to act

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