Delhi Union of Journalists demands freedom, safety and security of journalists20 Mar, 2014
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supports the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) in its call that all political parties in the upcoming Indian general elections incorporate a charter of press freedom into their election platforms to foster a diverse, free and independent media as well as ensuring the safety and security of working journalists in India in the lead-up to and during the 2014 elections.
The nine point “pre-election charter” calls for an amendment to the Working Journalists Act to bring the entire media under its auspices, thus ending the contract labour system for media workers and implementing the Wage Board recommendations that were brought into effect on February 7, as well as insurance and pension schemes for journalists. The DUJ also calls for checks on cross-media ownership.
“These have been pending before the government for over five years,” said DUJ’s General Secretary, S.K. Pande.
India is holding its general election in nine phases, from April 7 to May 12. Voting will take place in 543 constituencies with the final result expected to be declared on May 16.
The IFJ said: “With an election upcoming, it is a crucial time for Indian politicians on all sides to promote values of free speech and free media. We hope that all politicians take this charter on board.”
In a year that has seen a worrying increase in gang violence directed at journalists, the IFJ said targeted media bashing and media manipulation attempts before the elections had to be brought under control and a message sent clearly from the government that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.
The DUJ’s nine point charter is as follows:
1. Early Setting of a common Media Council for both print and electronic media.
2. Setting up of a Media Commission for both print, electronic media like the First and Second Press Commissions and to ensure implementation in view of sweeping changes since the onset of globalization – and the deplorable condition of journalists and non-journalists in the press – a few exceptions notwithstanding.
3. Amending the Working Journalists Act to bring in the entire media under its orbit, in view of increasing unfair labour practices – including mass retrenchments.
4. Ending contract labour in the newspaper industry both in News and Electronic broadcast media.
5. Putting responsible checks on cross media ownership
6. Immediate steps to help the growth of national language news and feature agencies through a National Newspaper and Feature Agencies Development Corporation
7. Implementing the Wage Board Recommendations as per historic Supreme Court ruling of February 7th, 2014.
8. Proper Insurance and Pension scheme for journalists & press workers
9. Ensuring a one-year package to the premier national news agency United News of India to help sustain regular payment of salaries which are being delayed for months.
The IFJ said: “We call on all political parties in India to take up this call to honour and protect media freedoms at the most crucial time for democracy and freedom of expression in India.”