The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has issued two new situation reports on the difficulties confronting journalists, their organisations and media outlets in India’s conflict areas of Jammu and Kashmir and the states of the North-East.
While conditions vary between regions and conflicts, the reports detail the multiple ways in which media personnel in these regions are restrained from going about their jobs, the security risks they deal with while reporting in a volatile environment, state restrictions on content and broadcasting, and a “blame the messenger” attitude when media reporting on controversial issues puts pressure on both local administrations and their opponents.
Attacks against journalists and the media come from opposing sides, as governmental pressure is exerted through legal mechanisms and security forces while armed militant groups also vie to control media content in their favour.
Priority concerns raised in the reports are the abysmally low levels of compensation and poor working conditions that journalists in these regions suffer.
Governing authorities, state security agencies and militant groups are called on to respect the right of journalists to access information from all sides of a conflict situation.
This requires, above all, that the civilian status of journalists in zones of armed conflict and insurgency be treated as an inviolable principle, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738 which obliges all parties to a conflict to protect journalists reporting in conflict areas.