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Plenary Session 3

Journalism Through the Lens of Human Rights | Plenary Session 3

Role of media in highlighting the acts of commission, omission, abetment and negligence of the State and its agencies, which result in rights violations, is indispensable to protect human rights of citizens. There have been several instances when media has acted as an agent for constructive change and notable developments within human rights jurisprudence. Journalists espousing this cause are often subjected to opposition and attacks on them by vested interests are condemnable for not only do they weaken the freedom of the media but also democratic processes. The mass media-human rights relationship involves two different yet overlapping elements: first, the existence of independent and free media to communicate information to citizens, make them aware of certain human rights and claim them; and, second, the extent to which media organizations report on human rights situations such as cases of violation or protection. A country is generally said to respect and protect its people’s human rights if it allows free press and the unhindered reporting of human rights conditions

Tuesday, 22 Sept 2020 (10.45 am to 1.30 pm)

Dr Latha Krishnan - The learned speaker stated that she is of the opinion that news should be as neutral as possible, and the perspective should be decided by the individual who is listening to the facts and not by those who present the facts to the people aka the journalist. She extols the reporter to be true to their profession and selflessly reports without any fear or compromise to their ethics. Journalism is essential to democracy and to the development of society. She hopes that the centre can empower journalists so that they can stand up and speak out without fear.

Avinash Singh - The learned speaker excellently elaborated on the nuances of the topic of this session by quoting several episodes where individuals have been jailed multiple times simply for reporting the facts and being whistleblowers. He believes that this trend is what must be discussed in today’s session as, ironically, it is the journalists and reporters who are true to their vocation who get denied their human rights by the powers to be.

Uma - The learned speaker stated that in the practical reality of journalism, usually human rights violation of reporters that occurs, occurs in areas which are conflict zones. This ensures that there is a larger possibility of human rights being ignored due to the severity of the political environment the journalists find themselves in. She further states that this is not only limited to conflict zones, but also to companies and centers of power where individuals wish to suppress the news that is detrimental to their own interests. In summation, the speaker is of the opinion that this is the price of the profession itself and as much as it will be redressed in the future, it cannot ever completely be done away with due to its very nature.

Satish Jacob - The learned speaker stated first how the profession of journalism was titled the fourth estate and which was considered an independent pillar within society necessary for the sustenance of that society. He then wished to extol on the need to not be damaging and not to be capricious in reporting, rather the journalists should just be true to their vocation by keeping their eyes and ears open and reporting in a neutral way. This should occur irrespective of what the government wishes to say, what the politicians wish to say and what the industries wish to say. The speaker wished to explain that the onus of the journalist is reporting and that should not be dependent on personal safety, security or guarantees.

Mr Yashodhan - The learned speaker stated the long history of human rights within the Indian subcontinent and of how those rights have been ingrained in the psyche of individuals within the country due to their reverberations in the cultural and religious spheres of influence. He then elaborates on the challenge which is that journalists have to become neutral again as he believes quite a few of them are not. He also stresses to see that even those fringe groups that are deemed detrimental to the country at large are usually providing a service to local areas where the government is not investing in development. He further stresses that development should come to all the disenfranchised sections of society, irrespective of their victimization by political ideologies that they themselves support.

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