Closure Of Kashmir Newspaper A Setback To Free Speech

Press Release
October 4, 2016

Closure Of Kashmir Newspaper A Setback To Free Speech

Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir must revoke an order to stop the printing and publication of Kashmir Reader, a Srinagar-based English daily, Amnesty International India said today. 

The order, passed by the District Magistrate of Srinagar and served to the publication on 2 October, states that the newspaper “contains such material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquillity”. 

The newspaper has extensively covered the violence in Kashmir in recent months, and reports of human rights violations by security forces. The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) has described the ban as “against the spirit of democracy and freedom of press”.

“The District Magistrate’s order does not specifically mention any news items in Kashmir Reader that incited violence,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India. “This vaguely-worded shutdown order suggests that the newspaper is being targeted for its reporting.”

“The media plays a crucial role in reporting human rights abuses. The government has a duty to respect the freedom of the press, and the right of people to receive information. It cannot shut down a newspaper simply for being critical of the government.”

Under international human rights law, any restrictions on the right to freedom of expression on the ground of public order must be demonstrably necessary and proportionate.

The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – to which India is a state party – has said: “The free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion.”

In July, the state government shut down the publication of local newspapers in Kashmir for three days on vague grounds.