Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 12th July 2022.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she plans to take steps to ensure that the Indian Government fulfils its commitments as a signatory to the 2022 G7 Resilient Democracies Statement in the context of reported persecution of Indian journalists who are critical of the governing Bharatiya Janata party.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department has taken to ensure the safety and independence of journalists in India in the context of the recent change in that country's position on the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with her Indian counterpart on press freedoms in India.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in India, if she will discuss with her Indian counterpart the (a) protection of press freedoms and (b) safety of journalists in that country.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair, what steps her Department plans to take to help protect the freedom and safety of religious minority journalists in India.
We are aware of the arrest of Mohammed Zubair, a journalist and the co-founder of Alt News, and concerns around media freedom in India. The British High Commission in New Delhi continues to follow these events closely, while recognising that the Indian judicial system is a matter for the Government of India. The UK Government remains committed to media freedom, and to championing democracy and human rights around the world. We engage with India on a range of human rights matters, including media freedom and freedom of religion or belief, and where we have concerns, we raise them directly with the Government of India, including at Ministerial level.
We work closely with and regularly engage India's vibrant media, which promotes lively debate across the political spectrum, and do this through the annual South Asia Journalism Fellowship Programme under our flagship Chevening brand which includes over 60 Indian alumni. In 2021, we supported the Thomson Reuters Foundation in running workshops for journalists reporting on issues such as human trafficking and child labour. On 5 May 2021, the then-Foreign Secretary led a discussion with G7 members and guest states, including India, on further multilateral coordination to promote media freedom. He stressed to all states the importance of media freedom and combatting the use of arbitrary detention and encouraged support for UNESCO's Global Media Defence Fund.
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