New Delhi: Indian journalist and senior editor of Outlook magazine Shahina K.K. is one of the journalists honoured in this year’s International Press Freedom Awards given by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Shahina, the CPJ points out, was one of the first Indian journalists to be charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her work in Tehelka magazine. The CPJ note continues:
“She has continued her reporting in various posts despite awaiting trial for a case opened in 2010, when local government officials in Karnataka state sought to criminalize her reporting published in Tehelka, a prominent investigative magazine where she worked at the time. Her report cast doubt on a police investigation into 2008 bomb blasts in Bengaluru, alleging that the police had fabricated witness statements to arrest a local Muslim cleric.
She faces three charges under the penal code, including criminal intimidation, intent to commit a criminal act, and criminal conspiracy, and one count under UAPA pertaining to threatening witnesses. As of June 2023, Shahina is out on bail pending trial. If convicted, she faces a maximum of three years in prison and a fine.
A Muslim by birth, Shahina has also been subjected to extensive harassment by Indian right-wing groups seeking to silence her reporting on religious minorities and vulnerable caste groups. She has faced persistent online harassment and lewd threats, and in 2020, several right-wing publications falsely implicated her in that Bengaluru bombing.
Based in Kochi, in the southern state of Kerala, Shahina has worked as a reporter, production associate, and news anchor with well-known news outlets including Asianet News, Janayugom, Open, and The Federal. She also has contributed to The Washington Post.”
The CPJ has said in its note announcing Shahina’s win that this also highlights “India’s increasingly repressive environment for press freedom, with the targeting of journalists under draconian security laws, and toxic online campaigns particularly aimed at vilifying women journalists and ethnic or religious minorities.”
Other awardees for this year include Nika Gvaramia from Georgia (founder and director of independent broadcaster, Mtavari Arkhi), María Teresa Montaño from Mexico (investigative reporter and founder and editor of The Observer, a fact-checking and investigative website) and Ferdinand Ayité from Togo (head of L’Alternative, one of Togo’s top investigative outlets).
This year’s Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from CPJ, which goes to “an individual who has shown extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom”, has been awarded to Alberto Ibargüen, who recently announced he is stepping down as president of the Knight Foundation after 18 years at its helm. “Under his leadership, the foundation invested over $2.3 billion in journalism, arts, economic development, and research. Ibargüen is the former publisher of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. During his tenure, the Miami Herald won three Pulitzer Prizes and El Nuevo Herald won Spain’s Ortega y Gasset Prize for excellence in journalism. He served on the board of CPJ from 1993 to 2005,” CPJ has said.