IFJ Condemns Harassment of Investigative Journalist in India

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide has today condemned the imprisonment of an investigative journalist in India.

"Penalising whistle blowers for their truth telling is a curtailment of press freedom that must be resisted," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

According to information received by the IFJ, freelance journalist Sanjay Arya of village Chirapatla in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, has been jailed since 21 October 2004 under falsified charges.

Arya's investigations into government corruption and failures in the public health and education systems have been instrumental in local campaigns to enforce accountability from local administration. He has also written several exposes on the exploitation of tribal groups by gambling rings, illegal hunting, tree felling and mining in the reserved forests.

Such investigations have left Ayra a target from both politicians and bureaucrats and local mafia groups. After several unsuccessful bribery attempts, he reportedly received threats to stop his investigative stories.

Arya was arrested on 21 October reportedly under false accusations under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Although the police found no prima facie evidence against Arya, he was arrested under pressure from local politicians and bureaucrats.

"We urge the Madhya Pradesh Government to end the harassment of independent journalists, drop all charges against Sanjay Arya and work towards greater transparency in governance and promote press freedom," said Warren.

For further information, please contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries

Address protest letters to:

Babulal Gaur
Chief Minister
Madhya Pradesh
Via email: [email protected]

Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission
Via email: [email protected]

JS Anand,
Chairperson National Human Rights Commission
Via Fax: +91-11-23366537
Via email: [email protected]

To view online click here: www.ifj-asia.org/page/india041026.html