The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today
released a report titled Freedom in
Solidarity: Media Working for Peace in South Asia, which presents the
results of a 18-month process working with affiliates to assess capacity to
respond collectively in crises involving media freedom.
presents the outcome of this process of evaluation of past efforts in the
defence of press freedom in situations of conflict in five countries of South
Asia: Bangladesh, India, Nepal,
Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Situations analysed cover the wide range of conflict situations encountered by
media practitioners in these countries and their efforts to collectively work
to establish an environment conducive to free reporting.
successes and failures are evaluated to arrive at an understanding of the
essential ingredients of a credible and effective collective response to media
makes the case for journalists’ unions and organisations to operate in concert
with wider civil society actors to pursue an effective mode of international
networking. Sharing experiences across diverse areas can often energise local
struggles in the vast sub-continent. Unions that have strong institutional
structures, invest in capacity building and operate transparently have greater
success in all these respects.
remains an area where rapid changes are underway in these countries and one where
unions need to remain firmly engaged. There is an unspoken truth in these
countries that underground groups and criminal gangs often have a voice in the
media through the fear they foster. No better defence exists against these
threats than unity in a professional cause and adherence to a declared code of
conduct by journalists.
South Asia’s media professionals
need to participate in a debate over the transfer of resources built up by
state-controlled broadcasters to public control. This would be an essential
part of a debate, which is long overdue, on public service journalism and its
links between unions in the national capitals and the more remote areas in the
South Asian countries, where the challenges facing journalists are especially
acute, are tenuous and weak. These need to be strengthened since the challenges
to the exercise of the free speech right in distant areas will not gain
traction and become issues of wide public concern, till they are adopted by
unions in national capitals and the metropolitan centres.
unions need to live up to their conventional role in delivering improved pay
and working conditions. Current approaches to this vital issue, especially in Pakistan,
Bangladesh and India, which have institutionalised processes of wage
determination through statutory wage boards, need to be reassessed and a campaign developed to shift
employers’ attitudes towards staff.
should consider creating a representative structure of young journalists and
women, to deepen the participatory character of the responses to ongoing
challenges. The involvement of women and the younger professionals would be a
crucial investment in the future of media freedom in all these countries.
is currently available in English. Translations in Bangla, Hindi, Nepali,
Sinhala, Tamil and Urdu will soon be posted online.
activities going into the report were conducted with the financial support of
the United States Institute of Peace.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific