The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins partners and
affiliates in India in calling for full disclosure of the circumstances in
which a shocking incident of the public molestation of a young girl by a mob of
more than twenty men was captured on video camera by a news channel reporter.
Video images of the incident, which occurred late evening on July 9 in
the city of Guwahati in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, soon went
viral on the web, provoking mass public outrage and questions over the role of
the news reporter in the incident.
The Journalists’ Union of Assam (JUA), a constituent unit of the
IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU) has reacted sharply to the
incident, and called on all journalists to “adhere to the norms of journalistic
conduct set by the Press Council of India and International Federation of
“Journalists are members of civil society and it is their duty to
observe decency and not be mere spectators when they encounter any preventable
crime”, said JUA President Geetartha Pathak. “Media persons should understand
that human lives and honour are more important than increasing television
ratings or circulation”.
The IFJ has learned
that human rights groups in Assam state have analysed the entire video recording
of the incident and concluded that a reporter with the NewsLive channel may
have provoked and instigated the attack. There are reports that the video
features some of the twenty strong mob striking a pose for the camera and at
least one occasion when the camera focuses on the face of the victim and a
microphone is thrust forward and inquiries are made about her name and
identity. Perpetrators of the crime are also seen brushing the hair off the
victim’s face so that her identity could be captured on camera.
The news channel
management has defended the reporter’s conduct, on the grounds that his video
footage has helped local police in identifying the perpetrators of the crime. The
management claims that the reporter happened to be passing by the area at the
time of the incident and reacted as any newsperson would, summoning the sole
cameraman on duty at the news channel’s nearby office.
The reporter has
since resigned from his job with the channel, which is owned by a powerful
local politician and minister in the Assam state cabinet.
“We are shocked and
distressed at this incident and extend our solidarity to the victim as she
seeks to recover from the trauma”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific. “We call on all
concerned journalists to join the public debate that arises from this
“The pervasive spread
of new digital technologies and the rapid and largely unregulated growth of the
visual media, make a full and authoritative restatement of the norms of
journalistic conduct in situations involving crime and the violation of basic
human rights, an absolute imperative”.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
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