PEN calls on India to safeguard freedom of expression

In recent years India’s climate for free expression has severely deteriorated, with writers, journalists and social media users finding themselves increasingly under attack, PEN International said. The 84th PEN International Congress, which includes writers from over 80 countries, concluded in Pune, last evening.

Each year, PEN International prepares a freedom of expression report on the country in which its Congress is being held. The report –India : Pursing truth in the face of intolerance-– outlines how dissenting voices, be they journalists, writers, academics or students face intimidation, harassment, prosecution, online abuse, and physical violence.

The report brings together voices of writers, journalists, lawyers and academics, illustrating the varied ways in which critical voices are targeted and silenced. It highlights “the use of overboard laws; directed attacks online and offline; the systematic stifling of academic research and freedom; and the continued marginalisation of and hostility towards women’s voices.”

PEN International said in an official statement that it “calls on the Indian authorities to protect its writers, journalists and all others exercising their right to free expression” and to “bring its legislation in line with its obligations under international law”.

Gathering together the voices of writers, journalists, lawyers and academics, the report illustrates the varied ways in which critical voices are targeted and silenced: from the use of overbroad laws; directed attacks online and offline; the systematic stifling of academic research and freedom; and the continued marginalisation of and hostility towards women’s voices.

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