UN urges India to protect free speech after journalist’s murder

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept 14 (APP): A group of UN human rights experts
Wednesday called on India to create a safer environment for independent voices, after Indian journalist and human rights defender Gauri Lankesh was killed earlier this month.
“The Indian authorities should unequivocally condemn the killing of
Gauri Lankesh, investigate it, bring all the perpetrators ” including the masterminds to account, and take seriously the safety of journalists,” the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, on summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, and on the situation of human rights defender, Michel Forst, said in a statement.
They called the murder of Ms. Lankesh, who was shot dead outside of her
home on Sept 5 a ” terrible and painful tragedy” and a “vicious attack” on the freedom of the press.
“We urge the authorities in India to take active steps to reverse a
political climate that in recent years have become increasingly polarized and hostile, especially to the media and those exercising the freedom of expression,” the Special Rapporteurs said, adding that they are in contact with the Government regarding the situation.
According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR), Ms. Lankesh was known as a “rationalist,” a term used in India for people who stand against the use of religion in politics.
OHCHR confirmed that her killing is the fourth in the last three years
of activists who had opposed the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in politics.
“Governments have a responsibility to build a safe environment for
independent voices, including those of journalists critical of the authorities,” they said.