Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
India 10 November 2008

Journalists denied visas for India after critical reporting

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the Indian embassy in Sweden after journalists were denied visas after writing critical reports about the country.

“This points to a lack of understanding of the basis of press freedom which is deeply worrying. If there is also a blacklist of inconvenient journalists, it is in fact outrageous. It means India has a lot of work to do on respecting press freedom”, said Jesper Bengtsson, chairman of the Swedish section of Reporters Without Borders.

Freelance journalist Ulrika Nandra and foreign correspondent of daily newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, Marina Malmgren, are two of the Swedish journalists whose visa applications have been rejected. In both cases, the rejections appear to be linked to articles they wrote about social problems in India, according to Swedish radio programme, The Media. Journalists are blacklisted if their reports about India are seen as too negative, according to sources quoted by the programme. This has happened to several other Swedish journalists.

Other Indian embassies around the world have also rejected visa applications from journalists, said Vincent Brossel, head of the Asia desk at Reporters Without Borders’ head office in Paris. He confirmed that foreign journalists have also had difficulty returning to India, usually after reporting on sensitive social issues.

Ulrika Nandra told Reporters Without Borders, ”I am sincerely shocked that a democracy should tell journalists what to write”.

Nandra’s problems began in autumn 2007 when she was about to make a second visit to India as a freelance journalist. She submitted a visa application in September but more than one year later had still received no response. Representatives of the media for which Nandra worked, state-run Sveriges Television and daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, held a meeting with the Indian embassy in February 2008 at which the embassy said they were displeased with her reports, including one about the sex trafficking in Bombay and a series of articles about changing gender roles in India, carried by Svenska Dagbladet in the summer of 2007.

“India is going through a sensitive phase at the moment and I think they are nervous that negative reports will frighten potential investors. Also, writing about sexuality is very much a taboo in India. Moreover, there may be expectations of me because I am half-Indian that I should be more loyal to India than other journalists, Ulrika Nandra said.

Reliable sources have told Nandra that it is uncertain that she will ever be able to return to the country, even on a tourist visa. Apart from working in India as a journalist, Nandra also has relatives there, making the visa rejection a strong personal blow as well.

Press contacts: Jesper Bengtsson, chairman of the Swedish section of Reporters Without Borders: + 46 702/68 25 29 Urban Löfqvist, office head of the Swedish section of Reporters Without Borders: +46 70/29 98 693




In this country
25 March - India
Newspaper editor gunned down in Assam
18 December - India
Journalist Lenin Kumar Roy and two assistants freed on bail
27 November - India
Journalist investigating drug trafficking gunned down in Bihar state
24 November - India
Journalist gunned down in Assam, second to be killed on northeast in past week
19 November - India
Trainee journalist gunned down in Manipur, local media stage protests

in the annual report
India - Annual report 2008
India - Annual report 2007
India - Annual report 2006

reports
4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
archives

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised