The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is
concerned at the arrest of T.P. Nandakumar, a magazine editor in the southern
Indian state of Kerala, on charges of defamation. Nandakumar was taken into
custody on July 3 following a complaint lodged by an Indian businessman
resident in the Gulf emirate of Abu
Dhabi. He was released on bail the following day.
who edits a weekly magazine called Crime, was under court injunction not
to publish any material on the complainant. His arrest followed the posting of
an article pertaining to the same individual on the magazine website, www.crimenewsonline.com.
Crime magazine has earned a wide readership in recent years by carrying a
number of stories with significant political impact. According to IFJ sources
in Kerala, these stories have touched on the alleged misdeeds of several of the
major parties that contest for political power in the state.
A recent story that it featured on the
Minister for Education and Culture in the state, led to libel action under
applicable civil law.
“Without going into the content of the article
in question, we believe that criminal action for defamation has no place in a
democratic system that respects a free press,” IFJ
Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“We urge that remedies for perceived acts of
libel or defamation be sought through civil law so that firm judicial
precedents are established on the protection of privacy and personal reputation.”
While recognising that such precedents would
be of value, the IFJ remains firm in its conviction that ethical guidelines for
the media are best evolved by professional bodies of journalists.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries