French journalist arrested in Kashmir13 Dec, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses serious concern over the arrest and continuing detention of French freelance journalist Paul Comiti in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir region, India on December 10, 2017. The IFJ demands immediate release of the journalist.
On Sunday, Kashmir police arrested Comiti for ‘violating visa regulations’ by filming protest activities in Kashmir, and presented him to the court, which remanded him on custody for five days. Comiti, 47, was visiting Kashmir to research for his documentary on a business visa valid until December 2018.
According to media reports the police charged him with violating the Passport Act and carrying out activities not permitted under a business visa. He was waiting for the necessary permits, requested more than two months ago, before starting to film and was meeting military officials, separatist leaders and human rights activists.
The Kashmir Valley has been dealing with an armed conflict and separatist movement since 1990. Journalists in the region have been working under extreme stress, threats and intimidation from the various actors in the conflict. Reporting the situation on the ground and informing the public is challenging, as the government and security forces attempt to restrict mobility, block access to sources and arbitrarily shut down telephone services and the internet.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ expresses serious concerns over the arrest and detention of French journalist Paul Comiti in Kashmir, India and demands his immediate release. In addition to the blockade of information for local journalists, it is almost impossible for the international media to report on Kashmir due non-issuance of journalist visas. The IFJ believes these restrictions are attempts to control access to information by denying journalists their legitimate rights. The IFJ also urges the Indian government to ensure that it respects international standards of dealing with journalists.”