New Delhi, 12 April 2019: The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) joins international media federations and organisations in strongly denouncing alleged threats by a former leader of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) against journalists in South Warizistan in Pakistan, and has urged the Federal government in Pakistan to take effective action. Taj Mohammad Wazeer, the former leader of JI, and other unidentified members of Pakistan’s National Assembly had on April 8 made public statements at a political rally calling for attacks on and killing of journalists in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to the International Federation of Journalists. SAMDEN condemns these statements and urges authorities to take legally mandated action to protect the lives of media workers and uphold the freedom of the press.
New Delhi, 13 March 2019: The independent Tanzanian news organisation ‘The Citizen’, which resumed operations after a seven-day government-imposed ban, today received support from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) which oppose pressure on media. The media group, whose publication and online edition had been blocked for a week, said it was “back with renewed vigour… in full and robust circulation”. It was banned on February 27 after the Tanzanian government accused it of publishing “false news” on the performance of the Tanzanian Shilling against the US dollar, and charged it with violation of the 2017 Statistics Act. This law prohibits the publication of any statistical information that differs from official statistics. “We believe that penalising journalists for independently investigating government claims is an unacceptable infringement of their fundamental rights,” said Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director, CHRI, and co-convener of
New Delhi, 15 February 2019: The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) urges authorities in the Philippines to drop all charges against noted journalist Maria Ressa and to respect journalists’ legitimate right to report on matters of public interest including alleged acts of corruption and abuse of human rights, in accordance with the Philippines’ commitments under domestic and international law. SAMDEN expresses alarm over frequent attacks against journalists and the high number of unsolved media killings in the Philippines, and the fact that these attacks appear to directed almost exclusively against journalists who are critical of the ruling dispensation. As many as 74 journalists have been killed in the country since 2000, including 12 murders under President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership alone. Philippines was declared “the deadliest peacetime country for journalists in Southeast Asia” in a December 2018 report by the International
Pakistan govt must heed stakeholders’ concerns before establishing new media regulatory authority: SAMDEN
New Delhi, 10 February 2019: The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) has urged the Pakistan government to enter a transparent dialogue with media leaders in that country over acute concerns about a proposed new media authority that could potentially render journalists vulnerable to state control. The government’s decision to establish the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) has triggered widespread opposition among media groups across the country. “We note the strong denunciation of the PMRA by leading news organizations in the country – the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and the Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) – which have described it as undemocratic, regressive and aimed at curbing media freedom,” SAMDEN said in statement. Among other provisions, the PMRA seeks to introduce an annual licensing system for members of print media – a
To,Mr. N. BirenChief Minister, Manipur 4 December 2018 Subject: Call to release journalist and withdraw defamation suit Dear Chief Minister, The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) writes to you out of concern on issues of freedom of expression and media rights in Manipur. We are a group of editors, journalists, bloggers and RTI leaders across several countries of South Asia as well as those of South Asian-origin based in UK and the US concerned about the rights of journalists who face pressure from any quarter in the course of their professional duties or right to free expression. We wish to raise the question of the cable TV journalist Wangkhem Kishorechandra, working then with ISTV, who was first arrested last August after he posted statements on Facebook mocking the BJP. He was put in jail and slapped with a defamation charge.
Dhaka, 21 November 2018: The release of the internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam has been hailed by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) as “as an example of justice being delivered, despite many delays at different levels.” Dr. Alam was set free on bail yesterday evening after day-long wrangles between his lawyers and jail authorities in Dhaka over a purported “discrepancy” in the prison’s address in bail documents which threatened to delay his release. The wrinkle was ironed out and he emerged to hold aloft a camera in what CHRI described as “a symbolic statement of the freedom of media”. Dr. Alam’s release capped a dramatic legal struggle which lasted the duration of his detention — 108 days for alleged violations of the country’s sweeping Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Act and allegedly bringing Bangladesh into disrepute with his criticism of last August’s crackdown against