Apr 9, 2018

तिनका तिनका : जेलों में बेकाबू 'भीड़' और सुप्रीम कोर्ट की जायज चिंताएं


मार्च के आखिरी हफ्ते में सुप्रीम कोर्ट में मौजूद रहकर भारत की 1382 जेलों की अमानवीय स्थिति पर हो रही सुनवाई का हिस्सा बनना बहुत खास था. एक तरफ आंखों के सामने खंडपीठ की जायज चिंताएं थीं तो दूसरी तरफ मेरे हाथों में रखे वे कागज थे जो आंकड़ों से पटे पड़े थे और मन में वे सच थे जो अलग-अलग जेलों में दौरे के दौरान मैंने खुद देखे थे. तिनका तिनका ने भारतीय जेलों को लेकर जो देखा, उस पर देश की सर्वोच्च अदालत की चिंताएं देखकर यह अहसास पुख्ता हुआ कि आगे सड़क लंबी है. लेकिन यह विश्वास भी हुआ कि देश की सर्वोच्च अदालत के सीधे दखल से अब कोई ठोस रास्ता जरूर निकलेगा.
इस समय देश की ज्यादातर जेलों में अपनी निर्धारित क्षमता से कहीं ज्यादा कैदी हैं. नेशनल क्राइम रिकॉर्ड्स ब्‍यूरो की 2015 की रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक भारतीय जेलों में क्षमता के मुकाबले 114.4 फीसदी ज्‍यादा कैदी बंद हैं और कुछ मामलों में तो यह तादाद छह सौ फीसदी तक है. ऐसे में हाल ही में न्यायमूर्ति एमबी लोकुर और न्यायमूर्ति दीपक गुप्ता की खंडपीठ ने तमाम राज्यों और केंद्रशासित प्रदेशों के पुलिस महानिदेशकों (जेल) को चेतावनी दी है कि जेलों में क्षमता से ज्यादा भीड़ के मुद्दे से निपटने के लिए अदालत के पहले के आदेश के मुताबिक एक कार्य योजना जमा करने में नाकाम रहने की वजह से उनके खिलाफ अदालत की अवमानना का मामला चलाया जा सकता है.
खंडपीठ ने इस बात पर जोर दिया कि कैदियों के मानवाधिकारों के प्रति राज्य सरकारों का रवैया लचर और गैर-जिम्मेदाराना है. विचाराधीन समीक्षा समितियां भी अपनी जिम्मेदारी को गंभीरता से नहीं निभा सकी हैं. हर जिले में गठित यह समिति विचाराधीन या सजा पूरी कर लेने वाले या जमानत पाने वाले कैदियों की रिहाई के मामलों की समीक्षा करती है लेकिन यह समीक्षा भी स्थिति में सुधार लाने में कारगर नहीं रही है.
अदालत ने राज्यों व केंद्रशासित प्रदेशों को अब 8 मई तक अपनी रिपोर्ट पेश करने के लिए कहा है. सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने इससे पहले भी छह मई, 2016 और तीन अक्तूबर, 2016 को जेलों की भीड़ कम करने के लिए एक कार्ययोजना बनाने का निर्देश दिया था. अदालत ने उनसे 31 मार्च, 2017 तक इसे जमा करने को कहा था लेकिन किसी भी राज्य ने ऐसा नहीं किया. ऐसे में अब इस आदेश पर अमल न होने पर सीधेतौर पर अवमानना का मामला बन सकता है.
एक तरफ जेलें भीड़ से उलझ रही हैं और दूसरी तरफ इनमें जेल कर्मचारियों की भारी कमी भी बनी हुई है. नेशनल लीगल सर्विस अथॉरिटी (नालसा) की ओर से पेश रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक देशभर की जेलों में कर्मचारियों की अनुमोदित क्षमता 77,230 है लेकिन इनमें से 31 दिसंबर, 2017 तक 24,588 यानी 30 फीसदी से भी ज्यादा पद खाली थे. ऐसे में सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने पुलिस महानिदेशकों (जेल) से खाली पदों को भरने की हिदायत दी है.
इन चिंताओं के बीच अब सारा दारोमदार जेलों पर ही है. ताज्जुब की बात यह है कि मानवाधिकार की तमाम कहानियों के बावजूद भारत में जेलों को लेकर अब तक न तो गंभीरता का माहौल बना है और न ही सुधारपरक और समय-सीमा परक योजनाएं बनी हैं. लगता है कि इसके मूल में एक बड़ी वजह राजनीतिक इच्छाशक्ति की ही कमी है क्योंकि जेलें वोट नहीं लातीं.
जेलों की स्थिति से संबंधित मामले में सुनवाई में सहायता के लिए सुप्रीम कोर्ट की ओर से नियुक्त सलाहकार गौरव अग्रवाल और खुली जेलों पर काम कर रहीं स्मिता चक्रवर्ती के सहयोग से जेलें चर्चा में तो हैं लेकिन जेलों के सामाजिक या राजनीतिक चिंता के दायरे में आने में अभी समय लगेगा.

Apr 6, 2018

Talk On Diet and Nutrition By Dr. Sunita Roy Chowdhury



 The Department of Physical Education at Lady Shri Ram College For Women organized a session on “Diet and Nutrition” with Dr. Sunita Roy Chowdhury, Chief Dietician, BLK Super Specialty Hospital on 25th January 2018. She has 25+ years of experience as a clinical nutritionist and is founder of ‘Healthy Nudges’, a health site being managed by experienced professionals currently. She talked about various diet requirements according to different age groups, benefits of pulses and importance of detoxification and about how our body requirements varies with the changing environment, thereby emphasizing on the improvement of the health and quality of life through dietary and nutritional assessment, counseling and education.



Focusing on the current status of the awareness of ‘Nutrition’ in the general masses and its aspect in the daily routine, she pointed that it is much less than it should be in India. All the National and International players from the college put up their various question regarding intake of both liquids and solids both during and off competitions. A proper diet schedule was provided by Dr Sunita Chowdhary for the same. During the interactive session, the importance of various sources of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, fats, minerals etc. along with their required intake was discussed.


New insights about breaking various food myths and outlook towards need of healthy diet among young sports athletes were also explored. The players were recommended with handy food items to stay well fed and hydrated throughout the day. Effects of excessive use of tea and coffee, detoxification, unhealthy eating habits like binge eating and drinking were also discussed. The talk ended with a discourse on psychological well-being of today’s youth whose attention is driven more towards their weight rather than health which results in feeding the disease rather than preventing it.

By Ishita Sharma
Department of Journalism
LSR

Apr 2, 2018

Marginalised Communities: Children and their representation in media

Abstract
Medias presence in childrens lives is vehemently ubiquitous. Today, Indian children spend almost six hours a day with media. The potentially negative consequences of childrens media consumption receive a lot of attention. Yet medias unique power and reach can also be used to educate children and enrich their lives. Television, which once dominated childrens media consumption habits, is now joined by computers, video game players, cell phones and other connected devices. The result is that children today are completely immersed in media experiences from a very young age.

Introduction
Media is everywhere. TV, Internet, computer and video games all vie for our children's attention. Information on this page can help parents understand the impact media has in our children's lives, while offering tips on managing time spent with various media. Today's children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. To help kids make wise media choices, parents should monitor their media diet. Parents can make use of established ratings systems for shows, movies and games to avoid inappropriate content, such as violence, explicit sexual content or glorified tobacco and alcohol use.
Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.
By limiting screen time and offering educational media and non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games, and watching television with their children, parents can help guide their children's media experience. Putting questionable content into context and teaching kids about advertising contributes to their media literacy.
Taking into account this great amount of engagement & rising violence against children receiving media coverage, all journalists and media professionals have a duty to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards and should promote within the industry the widest possible dissemination of information about the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and its implications for the exercise of independent journalism.
Media organisations should regard violation of the rights of children and issues related to children's safety, privacy, security, their education, health and social welfare and all forms of exploitation as important questions for investigations and public debate. Children have an absolute right to privacy, the only exceptions being those explicitly set out in these guidelines.
Journalistic activity which touches on the lives and welfare of children should always be carried out with appreciation of the vulnerable situation of children.

Even the journalistic coverage and subsequent exposure of the Swat Valley encounter experienced first hand by Malala Yousafzai falls in the grey space of such vulnerability that children are put in, themselvesThe journalistic question raised by Malala Yousafzai's tragedy is this: when parents make their children vulnerable by placing them in the media spotlight, are journalists ever obligated to act in loco parentis and exercise restraint? And if so when and how? In Malala's case, at least, there's no easy answer. Perhaps the extensive coverage of Malala helped put her at risk. But it also highlighted her passionate and courage and the brutality of the system she was fighting against. Whether that trade-off was worth it may depend, in the end, on whether she survives 

Guidelines

Journalists and media organisations shall strive to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in reporting children's affairs and, in particular, they shall
    strive for standards of excellence in terms of accuracy and sensitivity when reporting on issues involving children;
    avoid programming and publication of images which intrude upon the media space of children with information which is damaging to them;
    avoid the use of stereotypes and sensational presentation to promote journalistic material involving children;
    consider carefully the consequences of publication of any material concerning children and shall minimise harm to children;
    guard against visually or otherwise identifying children unless it is demonstrably in the public interest;
    give children, where possible, the right of access to media to express their own opinions without inducement of any kind;
    ensure independent verification of information provided by children and take special care to ensure that verification takes place without putting child informants at risk;
    avoid the use of sexualised images of children;
    use fair, open and straightforward methods for obtaining pictures and, where possible, obtain them with the knowledge and consent of children or a responsible adult, guardian or carer;
    verify the credentials of any organisation purporting to speak for or to represent the interests of children.
    not make payment to children for material involving the welfare of children or to parents or guardians of children unless it is demonstrably in the interest of the child.
Journalists should put to critical examination the reports submitted and the claims made by Governments on implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in their respective countries.
Media should not consider and report the conditions of children only as events but should continuously report the process likely to lead or leading to the occurrence of these events.
  
Principles
For the benefit for children themselves, how events including them are covered, how events are presented to them; 4 basic ground Principles were laid down to keep children both informed yet at the same time not deter their development as individuals. Why does this separation become important for children? It is because they are directly affected by the things they see on the screens. Children are neither mentally developed enough to question things or rationalise fantasy from reality nor hold the mental grit to distinguish right from wrong(morals & ethical dilemmas); any biased information or ethically wrong or immoral information can affect them negatively which is antithetical to their development.

Over the past 30 years there has been extensive research on the relationship between televised violence and violent behavior among youth. Longitudinal, cross-sectional, and experimental studies have all confirmed this correlation. Televised violence and the presence of television in American households have increased steadily over the years. In 1950, only 10% of American homes had a television.Today 99% of homes have televisions. In fact, more families have televisions than telephones. Over half of all children have a television set in their bedrooms. This gives a greater opportunity for children to view programs without parental supervision. Studies reveal that children watch approximately 28 hours of television a week, more time than they spend in school. The typical American child will view more than 200,000 acts of violence, including more than 16,000 murders before age 18. Television programs display 812 violent acts per hour; children's programming, particularly cartoons, displays up to 20 violent acts hourly. Schools, hospitals, and community groups may hold free workshops on topics such as taking control of kids' TV watching. They can make a difference in the way media impacts on their kids. If they limit, supervise, and share media experiences with children, they have much to gain. When parents help their children understand how their media choices affect them, they actively control their media use rather than giving in to the influence of media without thinking about it.

      Children have an absolute right to privacy. The highest ethical and professional standards in reporting and covering cases of children must be observed such that in all publicity concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be the primary concern.
      The childs dignity must be respected at all times.
      Children have the right to be heard. Access to media by children should be encouraged.
      The mass media is a partner in the promotion of child rights and the prevention of child delinquency, and is encouraged to relay consistent messages through a balanced approach. Journalistic activity which touches on the lives and welfare of children must be carried out with sensitivity and appreciation of the vulnerable situation of children, so that children are not re-victimized or re-traumatized.

Bibliography/Sources



By Shweta Kaul, Second Year,
BA Journalism (H)
LSR

Mar 21, 2018

खुली जेलों पर सुप्रीम कोर्ट, मीडिया और मानवाधिकार

खुली जेलों पर सुप्रीम कोर्ट, मीडिया और मानवाधिकार
देश की 1382 जेलों की बदहालत ने अब सुप्रीम कोर्ट को सामने आने पर मजबूर कर दिया है. राजस्‍थान लीगल सर्विस अथॉरिटी के खुली जेलों पर किए गए शोध और बाद में स्‍मिता चक्रवर्ती और गौरव अग्रवाल के प्रयासों ने खुली जेलों को बहस के केंद्र में ला खड़ा किया है. दिसंबर 2017 में सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने गृह मंत्रालय को सभी राज्‍यों और केंद्र शासित प्रदेशों से खुली जेलों पर अपनी स्थिति को साफ करने के लिए कहा था. उसके जवाब में इस साल फरवरी में हुई बैठक में खुली जेलों की प्रशासनिक जरूरतों पर खुलकर चर्चा की गई. यहां यह भी जोड़ा जा सकता है कि बंदियों के साथ व्यवहार के लिए न्यूनतम मानक निर्धारित करने हेतु संयुक्त राष्ट्रीय नियम 2010, भारत में मॉडल प्रिजन मैन्यूल और 2017 में जेलों में कैद महिला बंदियों को लेकर संसदीय समिति की रिपोर्ट- हिरासत में महिलाएं और न्याय ने जेलों को लेकर कई जरूरी मुद्दों की तरफ ध्यान दिलाया है. अब यह माना जाने लगा है कि जेलों को सुधार गृह बनाने के लिए उनमें बुनियादी परिवर्तन लाने होंगे. इनमें खुली जेलों का होना सबसे अहम है.
दरअसल खुली जेल एक ऐसी जेल होती है जिसमें जेल के सुरक्षा नियमों को काफी लचीला रखा जाता है. ऐसी जेलें आमतौर से केंद्रीय जेल से बाहर स्थापित की जाती हैं और सलाखों से तकरीबन आजाद होती है. ऐसी जेलों में रहने वाले बंदी दिन के समय बाहर कहीं भी जा सकते हैं, लेकिन उन्‍हें एक निश्‍चित समय के बाद शाम में उसी जगह पर लौटना होता है. ऐसी जगह में बंदी के भागे जाने के डर को ध्‍यान में रखते हुए किसी तरह की सुरक्षा का दबाव नहीं रखा जाता. इन जेलों में बंदियों को आत्‍मानुशासन और खुद अपनी रोटी अर्जित करने पर जोर दिया जाता है. इसमें एक बड़ी बात यह भी है कि इन बंदियों से बाहर के लोग आकर मिल सकते हैं. ऐसे में यह बंदी भी धीरे-धीरे अपने आप को समाज में लौटने के लिए तैयारी का अवसर पा लेते हैं. इस तरह की खुली जेल का मकसद जेलों में बढ़ती भीड़ पर काबू पाना, बंदियों को उनके अच्‍छे व्‍यवहार के लिए एक मौका देना और उन्‍हें समाज में लौटने के लिए फिर से तैयार करना होता है.
दुनिया में पहली खुली जेल स्‍वीट्जरलैंड में 1891 में बनी थी. उसके बाद अमेरीका में 1916 में और ब्रिटेन में 1930 में बनाई गई. साल 1975 आते-आते अमेरीका में खुली जेलों की संख्‍या 25 हो गई, जबकि इंग्‍लैंड में 13 और भारत में 23. भारत में पहली खुली जेल 1905 में बम्‍बई में बनी और इसमें थाणे केन्‍द्रीय जेल, बम्‍बई के खास बंदियों को रखा गया. लेकिन इस खुली जेल को 1910 में बंद करना पड़ा. उत्तर प्रदेश में अनाधिकृत तौर पर खुली जेल का पहला कैंप 1953 में बनाया गया. इसका मकसद वाराणसी के पास चंद्रप्रभा नदी पर एक बांध बनाना था. इस कैंप की जबरदस्‍त सफलता को देखते हुए 1956 में उत्‍तरप्रदेश के शहर मिर्जापुर में भी ऐसा ही प्रयोग किया गया.
इस समय भारत में कुल 63 खुली जेलें हैं. इसी खुली जेल को लेकर सितम्बर 2017 में सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने एक आदेश दिया कि पूरे देश में खुली जेल के कॉन्सेप्‍ट को जल्‍दी से जल्‍दी लागू किया जाये. इनमें यरवदा, तिरुअनंतपुरम और राजस्‍थान में दुर्गापुर और सांगानेर में महिलाओं के लिए खुली जेल का प्रावधान है. 2010 में पुणे में देश की पहली महिला खुली जेल को शुरू कर दिया गया. बाकी 59 खुली जेलों में महिलाओं को रखने की कोई सुविधा नहीं है. बाकी राज्यों में महिला खुली जेल को लेकर हिचक बनी रही है. यहां यह भी जोड़ा जा सकता है कि पूरे देश में इस समय 1382 जेलें हैं जिनमें से महिलाओं के लिए सिर्फ 18 ही हैं.
मौजूदा समय में खुली जेलों में करीब 100 से 1000 तक बंदी रखे जाते हैं. लेकिन डकैती और फर्जीबाड़े जैसे अपराधों में लिप्‍त रहे बंदियों और महिलाओं का इस जेल के लिए चुनाव नहीं किया जाता. इन्हीं खुली जेलों को लेकर जस्टिस मदन लोकूर और दीपक गुप्‍ता ने अपने ऐतिहासिक फैसले में कहा है कि अब भारत में खुली जेल की तादाद को बढ़ाना होगा. अभिनेता संजय दत्‍त की जारी की हुई जनहित याचिका के वजह से इस फैसले को लिया गया है. संजय दत्‍त ने महाराष्‍ट्र की जेलों में पांच साल का समय गुजारा था. जनहित याचिका को संज्ञान में लेते हुए सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने 11 निर्देश दिए हैं. इनमें जेल सुधार को लेकर सभी राज्‍यों को तुरंत कार्यवाही करने के लिए कहा गया है. सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने माना है कि अब समय आ गया है कि सभी राज्‍य खुली जेलों के सिद्धांत का गंभीरता से अध्‍ययन करें और उसे अमल में लायें. इस फैसले में शिमला और दिल्‍ली की तिहाड़ जेल का खास उल्‍लेख किया गया है.
यह बात गौरतलब है कि हिमाचल प्रदेश में सोमेश गोयल और दिल्‍ली में विमला मेहरा और अजय कश्यप जैसे प्रभावशाली आईपीएस अफसरों के कार्यकाल में खुली जेल और अर्धखुली जेल काफी विकसित हुई हैं. भारत में तेलंगाना और मध्य प्रदेश में होशंगाबाद की खुली जेलों ने आधुनिक तरीके से कायाकल्प किया है. इसी तरह राजस्थान की जेलों का सर्वे करने पर सामने आया कि जेलों में बंद कई कैदियों का आचरण अच्छा है लेकिन खुली जेलों की संख्या और उनकी क्षमता कम होने की वजह से बंदियों को जेल की चारदीवारी में बंद रहना पड़ता है. मानद जेल कमिश्नर समिता चक्रवर्ती ने यह पाया कि जेलों में 90 फीसदी कैदी ऐसे हैं जो आदतन अपराधी नहीं है. लेकिन दुर्घटनावश अपराध कर बैठे और उन्हें सजा हो गई. उन्होंने भी यह मांग की थी कि ऐसे कैदियों को खुली जेलों में शिफ्ट की जाने की सुविधा प्रदान की जानी चाहिए. अकेले सांगानेर खुली जेल में साढ़े चार सौ से ज्यादा बंदी रहते हैं. राजस्थान में 1955 में पहली खुली जेल की स्थापना की गई थी, जिसका परिणाम काफी अच्छा रहा.
सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने जेलों में अफसरों के लिए ट्रेनिंग और बंदियों के लिए उनके अधिकारों पर कार्यक्रम आयोजित करने पर भी जोर दिया है. इसके अलावा माहिला और बाल विकास मंत्रालय से भी कहा गया है कि वह जेलों में बच्‍चों और महिलाओ की देखभाल को लेकर अपने काम को आगे बढ़ाए. यहां यह जोड़ना जरूरी है कि देश भर में करीब 1800 बच्‍चे अपनी माता या पिता के साथ जेल में रहते हैं और उन्‍हें सिर्फ 6 साल तक ही उनके साथ जेलों में रहने की इजाजत होती है. नेशनल क्राइम रिकॉर्ड ब्‍यूरो के मुताबिक भारत में पिछले 15 सालों मे जेलों में बंद होने वाली महिलाओं की संख्‍या में 50 प्रतिशत की बढोतरी हुई है. इसी तरह पिछले एक दशक में 477 महिला बंदियों की मौत जेल के अंदर हुई है.
ऐसे में खुली जेलों को लेकर सुप्रीम कोर्ट का निर्देश मील का पत्‍थर साबित होगा, लेकिन इसे लागू करना इतना आसान नहीं लगता. जेलों में करीब 80 प्रतिशत बंदी विचाराधीन है और न्‍यायिक प्रक्रिया अक्‍सर बहुत लंबा समय लेती हैं. भारत में 149 जेलों में 150 प्रतिशत से ज्‍यादा भीड़ है यानी देश की जेलों में अपनी संख्‍या से कम से कम 18 प्रतिशत ज्‍यादा बंदी रखए गए हैं. आज भी इन जेलों में अपनी तय संख्‍या से बंदियों को सही ढंग से रखे जाने को कोई प्रावधान नहीं बन सका है. जेलें सामाजिक और प्रशासनिक दोनों ही स्‍तरों से अनदेखी का शिकार होती हैं. जस्टिस मुल्‍ला और जस्टिस कृष्‍णा अय्यर रिपोर्ट में दी गई सलाहें अब भी पूरी तरह से लागू नहीं हो पाई हैं. इससे जेलों में भीड़ का बढ़ना स्‍वभाविक है.
देश का सबसे बड़ा राज्‍य होने के बावजूद उत्‍तरप्रदेश में एक भी खुली जेल नहीं है. दक्षिण एशिया की सबसे बड़ी जेल तिहाड़ में सिर्फ एक खुली जेल है जिसमें फिलहाल 10 बंदी हैं और इनमें एक भी महिला बंदी नहीं है. गुजरात में 3 खुली जेलें हैं और चौथी का काम चल रहा है, जबकि महाराष्‍ट्र में 13 खुली जेलें हैं और इनमें से 2 महिलाओं के लिए हैं. यहां 6 और खुली जेलें बनाने का काम चल रहा है. हिमाचल प्रदेश में 7 खुली जेलें हैं, जबकि मध्‍यप्रदेश में होशंगाबाद में एक खुली जेल है. यहां पर 10 नई खुली जेलें बनाने का काम चल रहा है. 
प्रशासनिक स्‍तर पर जेलें राज्‍यों के अधीन आती हैं. आईपीएस अधिकारी अक्‍सर जेलों मे नियुक्‍त होना पसंद नहीं करते और खुद जेल मंत्री भी जेलों को लेकर अ-गंभीर बने रहते हैं. भारत में जेलों को सुधार गृह कहा जाने लगा है, लेकिन ऐसा कहने भर से काम पूरा नहीं होता. जेलें अपराधियों के लिए बड़े अपराध बनने का वर्कशॉप भी बनती रही हैं. विचाराधीन और सजायाफ्ता या फिर एक बार अपराध करके आये और बार-बार अपराध करने वाले बंदियों को अलग-अलग रखने का प्रावधान न होने से जेलें बाहर की दुनिया के लिए खतरे का कारक बनती हैं.
सुप्रीम कोर्ट के निर्देशों के बाद खुली जेलों को लेकर सकारात्मक माहौल बनने लगा है, लेकिन इस रिपोर्ट को लागू करने के लिए नीयत भी बने, इसके लिए कोई नियम नहीं बनाया जा सकता. जेलें एक टापू की तरह संचालित होती हैं और सन्‍नाटे में पलती हैं. जेल से बाहर आने पर अपराधी फिर से अपराध की दुनिया में न लौटे, इसे सुनिश्‍चत करने के लिए उन संस्‍थाओं को संकल्‍प लेना होगा जिन पर य‍ह जिम्‍मेदारी है. सुप्रीम कोर्ट के फैसले ने एक रास्‍ते को खोला है, लेकिन इस रास्‍ते में चट्टानों की कोई कमी नहीं. जेलों को खोलने से पहले समाज को अपने मानस को खोलना होगा.

Mar 13, 2018

The Importance of Self Regulation of the Media in upholding freedom of expression


 -Andrew Puddephatt

Introduction – the importance of freedom of expression

Freedom of expression has long been regarded as a fundamental right, one which is important in itself and also helps to defend other rights and freedoms. There are three reasons why freedom of expression is so crucial. Firstly it is a human need to be ourselves and have our own identity, and the ability to express ourselves in words, music, dance or any other form of expression is central to the realisation of our humanity. Secondly it is a foundation for other rights and freedoms as without freedom of expression it is not possible to organise, inform, alert, or mobilise in defence of human rights. Thirdly, as Amartya Sen has persuasively argued it’s the pre condition of social and economic development as transparent and open communications are necessary to ensure economic and social development that benefits everyone.

The importance of the right to freedom of expression is reflected by its widespread protection in international law at the global and regional level. The right is protected in all significant international and regional human rights treaties, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It is also protected in regional treaties: by Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights; by Article 9 of the African Charter (elaborated by a specific declaration agreed in October 2002); and Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Its significance is uncontested.
If it is to be fully realized, however, freedom of expression requires a public dimension—a means of communication—in order to facilitate the exchange of opinions, ideas and information. It follows that free expression activists have focused a great deal of attention on the structure and regulation of the media environment, for it is these that provide the principal platforms for public expression, from books and newspapers to the broadcast media.

How freedom of expression is supported – the UNESCO framework

Free expression has always required a means of communication to be effective, otherwise communication is confined to those we can immediately speak with. A megaphone goes farther than a human voice, a radio transmitter even further. These platforms have changed over the centuries, from wall paintings to print, through radio to analogue television. This means that the media must have the freedom to provide the means of information exchange, debate and opinion that is necessary to enable us to realise our freedom of expression in the fullest sense. It is inevitable therefore that free expression activists have always concerned themselves with the operations of the media and its ability to function free from repression and government control.
Much attention has been paid to the norms and standards that freedom of expression requires in the traditional media world. The consensus is that a media environment capable of supporting free expression will have a number of characteristics: it will be a diverse media environment, part public, part private and part community; a plurality of different media outlets; and a system that is broadly self-regulating with the exception of broadcast media (where spectrum has been limited and a regulatory body allocates bandwidth). Media professional will have sufficient training to understand and implement the demands of their profession and there will be adequate access to the means of the communication for people as a whole. This framework is elaborated in detail in UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators adopted by UNESCO in 2008. The analysis sets out five major categories of indicators that can be used to analyse the media development of a country. Each category is broken down into a number of component issues which in turn contain a series of broad indicators.


Media independence – what is the role of the state?

In the past many advocates have argued for minimal state interference in the media as the necessary condition for a media environment that can support democracy. This argument has particular currency in the United States with its First Amendment statement that “Congress shall make no law… abridging freedom of speech or the press...”Others, including UNESCO have argued that the construction of a modern media environment capable of supporting democracy and good governance may require a proactive role by the state – in providing infrastructure, funding a public broadcaster, ensuring the right kind of regulatory environment. Norris and Zinnbauer4 argue that independent journalism, as a potential check on the abuse of power, is a necessary but not sufficient means of strengthening good governance and promoting human development. They suggest that these goals are achieved most effectively under two further conditions. Firstly, in societies where channels of mass communications are free and independent of established interests; and secondly, where there is widespread access to these media. Both of these may require some action by the state.


UNESCO’s approach takes as its starting point that any attempt to measure media development must embrace issues of both independence and access as well as the absence of restrictions on the media. What matters is the extent to which all sectors of society, especially those who are most disadvantaged or marginalised, can access the media to gain information and make their voices heard. Limited access to – or lack of engagement with – the media is a function of poverty and poor education. It may also be caused or exacerbated by language, gender, age, ethnicity or the urban-rural divide. Whatever the cause, it contributes to an environment that can undermine democratic development.


However, the absence of state intervention on its own is no guarantee of a rich media environment. On the contrary: to promote a media environment characterised by pluralism and diversity, state intervention is necessary. To guarantee pluralism requires provisions for public broadcasting, commercial broadcast and print media and community-based broadcast and print media. As well as investment in human resources, specifically in building the professional capacity of media workers, both journalists and media managers, through academic and vocational training, ‘on-the-job’ development and the development of professional associations.


Infrastructure capacity is also crucial: promoting a diverse media environment requires money to flow into supporting the means of communication, including broadcast reception quality, the provision of electricity supplies and access to telephones and the Internet, all of which may require state support. In many parts of the world there is little or no access to the means of communication – in such environments, formal freedoms mean little.

To ensure media pluralism may require the application of competition law by the state to prevent 
monopoly. In the past many countries have sought to prohibit a company from occupying a dominant a market share or cross media ownership (where a company owns newspapers, television and radio stations). This can be necessary to ensure freedom of expression.


In addition where bandwidth – analogue spectrum for the most part – it is accepted that there needs to be a state mechanism to allocate that bandwidth.

“The main justification argued by governments is that broadcasting uses spectrum, and spectrum is a public resource, allocated to nations in ac-cordance with complex international agreements. As such, it is a scarce resource: there is only so much spectrum available for broadcasting use in each country. And therefore, because it is a scarce resource, it is valuable. ... It is therefore reasonable for the State, as the owner of spec-trum, to place obligations on broadcasters who use that resource.”

Finally many countries accept that were one form of media is overwhelmingly powerful and influential in a democracy the state may have a role in requiring this dominant media to display a degree of balance in reporting. In the case of public service media this requirement is particularly important to avoid accusations of government or factional political control of the media.

The other circumstances where the state plays a role, through its judicial arm, is in the regulation of content in certain limited circumstances. Freedom of expression is not an absolute right and it can be restricted to protect the rights of others for example by prohibiting speech that incites violence or hatred against a particular racial group; to protect children from sexual exploitation or to protect the reputation of individuals from false accusations. The accepted practice is for such restrictions to be narrowly defined and only applied by the courts where there is a clear public interest in so doing.

The media as a platform and a social actor

With these exceptions however, the consensus is that the state should stay out of regulating media because of its importance in supporting the human right to freedom of expression. Media outlets are crucial to the exercise of freedom of expression because they provide the public platform through which this right is effectively exercised. The idea of media as a platform for democratic debate embraces a wide variety of overlapping media functions. Media outlets are channels through which citizens can communicate with each other, acting as a facilitator of informed debate between diverse social actors, encouraging the non-violent resolution of disputes. The media disseminates stories, ideas and information and acts as a corrective to the “natural asymmetry of information” between governors and governed, and between competing private agents. The media can also function as a watchdog, promoting government transparency and public scrutiny of those with power through exposing corruption, maladministration and corporate wrongdoing, and thereby be a tool to enhance economic efficiency. The media can be a national voice, a means by which a society or a country can learn about itself and build a sense of community and of shared values, a vehicle for cultural expression and cultural cohesion within nation states.

However the media may potentially fulfil any or all of these functions, or none of them. In some contexts, the media may serve to reinforce the power of vested interests and exacerbate social inequalities by excluding critical or marginalised voices. In more established democracies, the role of the media has come under attack from those who believe it is undermining democracy through the trivial, anta-gonistic and personalized nature of its coverage. At its most extreme, the media can promote conflict and social divisiveness, particularly in a non-pluralistic media environment.

We think of the media as a place in which journalists convey ideas, information and stories to the listener, viewer or reader. If the views they present are representative of society as a whole then they are fulfilling our individual human rights, as readers/consumers, to freedom of expression. But this representation is only part of what they do. The other element is their own views and interests as journalists. The media, in reporting events, creates a social environment in which parties to the various debates in society, including the journalists themselves represent their own views. The media thus becomes an actor when it takes an editorial position, or when the broadcast media focus on certain issues or take a particular perspective. The idea that the journalist sits outside of the events they are covering, simply representing our rights to freedom of expression is only part of the picture.


Media constitute a space in which the debates and issues of a society can be articulated but are inevitably themselves actors in that conflict. To use sociological terms the media are both structure and agency. Policy makers tend to focus on the media’s role in constituting the public sphere of society – how that can be fostered and nurtured in a way as to permit the expression of the fullest range of views. By public sphere is meant that range of communication outlets and media which enable a society to view the representations of itself. To function properly a public sphere must have free flowing access to information, and enable the views of ordinary citizens to be heard. In the words of Jurgen Habermas it is “a discursive arena that is home to citizen debate, deliberation, agreement and action”. But it is also important to understand the role of the media as a social actor in itself, a partisan participant in the very debates that in covers, shaping them by commission or omission. If the state has no role in requiring the media to act in a responsible manner in the coverage of events, to ensure that it does not abuse the power it carries as a structure by exploiting its role as an agency, how is the media’s own accountability to be achieved? The answer has been self regulation. This is particularly important in countries where the media are linked to prominent business interests of political parties.


What is self regulation and its advantages?


What do we mean by self regulation? Self regulation is combination of standards setting out the appropriate codes of behaviour for the media that are necessary to support freedom of expression, and process how those behaviours will be monitored or held to account. The benefits of self regulation are well rehearsed. Self regulation preserves independence of the media and protects it from partisan government interference. It could be more efficient as a system of regulation as the media understand their own environment better than government (though they may use that knowledge to further their own commercial interests rather than the public interest). As the media environment becomes global (through the development of the internet and digital platforms) and questions of jurisdiction become more complex then self regulation can fill the resulting gap. It is less costly to government because industry bears the cost and can be more flexible than government regulation. Self regulation may also encourage greater compliance because of peer pressure (although there is also evidence that regulation or the threat of regulation is more likely to secure compliance). Self regulation can also drive up professional standards by requiring organisations to think about and even develop their own standards of behaviour.

Journalists codes of conduct

For many years self regulation was deemed to be the professional responsibility of journalists themselves and a variety of attempts have taken place to codify the responsibility of journalists, often through the medium of their professional associations. While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness. The earliest attempts to draft a code of ethics seem to be the Code of Journalistic Ethics adopted by the first Pan-American Press Conference held in Washington in 1926. It was adopted as policy by the Inter-American Press Association at a conference held in New York in October 1950.
The first International Federation of Journalists, established in 1926 but dissolved after the Second World War, took various steps aimed at self-regulation by the profession, including the establishment of an International Court of Honour in The Hague in 1931 and the adoption of a professional code of honour in 1939. Refounded in 1952, it developed a professional ethical code for journalists and adopted a declaration of journalists’ duties in 1954, at its Second Congress. Subsequently six journalists’ trade unions of the European Community adopted a Declaration of Duties and Rights of Journalists in November 1971. A range of national media institutions have developed their own codes of conduct, for example the Swiss Press Council.


These codes tend to focus upon certain accepted principles – a respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth; the right to fair comment and criticism; factual and objective reporting; the use of fair methods to obtain information; the willingness to correct mistakes; respecting the confidentiality of sources. These draw upon what is usually regarded as the essential elements of journalism – for example as sketched out by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel which they define as:


   Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.

   Its first loyalty is to the citizens.

   Its essence is discipline of verification.

   Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.

   It must serve as an independent monitor of power.

   It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
   It must strive to make the news significant, interesting, and relevant.

  It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.

   Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.


The limitation of codes of conduct is that they are difficult to uphold. They are essentially professional codes adopted voluntarily by journalists but without sanction if breached. It would be possible for a journalist association to expel a member who consciously breached such a code but that would not necessarily prohibit them from working as journalists. Moreover journalists often have little power within their organisations. Decisions about what stories to cover, how much budget is allocated to each story, what prominence is given are usually made by editors or senior managers. Media owners can use their power to influence how news is reported and published and shape the priorities of the media organisation. In such circumstances a journalist code of ethics will be relatively powerless.

Editorial independence

Alongside journalists codes of ethics therefore it is helpful to have guarantees of editorial independence so that the journalist are able to operate free of direct control of the commercial interests of the owners. Editorial independence is taken to mean the right of journalists to decide what to cover, how to cover it and where to place the story in a newspaper, magazine or broadcast, regardless of the views of the owners. In most countries editorial independence is undefined in that there are relatively few formal codes specifying what it might mean. A notable exception is the agreement between the then National Association of Norwegian Newspapers (now the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association) and the Association of Norwegian Editors. They adopted a declaration on the rights and duties of the editors in 1953, which is known in Norway as the Redaktørplakaten or Editors’ Code. This code includes the following:

“The editor shall promote the freedom of opinion and in accordance with the best of his/her abilities and strive for what he/she feels serves society.
Through his/her paper the editor shall promote an impartial and free exchange of information and opinion.”

It also assumes that the editor is legally responsible for the content of the media they edit. Although this was a voluntary agreement in recent years there has been an attempt to make it legally binding.

Other codes of editorial independence, such as the IFJ’s non binding code specify that editorial independence includes the right of the editorial council to be consulted on decisions, personnel policies, the right of the journalist to refuse an assignment if the assignment proves to breach journalists professional ethics, the right to define editorial policy and content of the paper/broadcasting station.

Professional guidelines

A third element of professional self regulation is the professional guidelines adopted by media organisations as a matter of editorial policy. Perhaps the best example of this is the various guidelines adopted by the BBC which are meant to govern its output. The overarching framework of the BBC guidelines is a statement of values.

“We must therefore balance our presumption of freedom of expression with our responsibilities, for example to respect privacy, to be fair, to avoid unjustifiable offence and to provide appropriate protection for our audiences from harm”

There is a conscious balance here between freedom and responsibility, a recognition that the freedom of the media to operate independently of government control, has to sit alongside some responsibilities in the exercise of that freedom. There are detailed guidelines that cover issues such as accuracy, fairness, impartiality, privacy, the avoidance of harm, the responsibilities of the media during elections, conflicts of interest and the coverage of sensitive issues such as conflict, young people, religion, crime and sexuality.

In the private sector the Guardian’s editorial code states that its purpose is “to protect and foster the bond of trust between the Guardian and its readers”. The code is voluntary and does not form part of the terms and conditions of the journalists – rather it is meant to define the culture of journalism at the paper. The code covers professional practice and issues such as conflicts of interest. However, adherence to the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice (see below) is written into the terms of employment of journalists at the Guardian.




Another example of voluntary guidelines is that drawn up by the NGO Article 19 which produced a set of guidelines to govern election broadcasting particularly aimed at emerging transitional democracies18.

Implementing standards

There are three interlocking aspects to professional self regulation which reinforce each other and which form a comprehensive approach to professional self regulation:

  Journalists’ codes of ethics

  Standards that ensure editorial independence

  Media organisations own guidelines on the coverage of events
   Inevitably this brings up questions of process – how are these self adopted codes upheld – do they rely solely upon the power of moral exhortation

or can they be given force in some way.

In many sectors of commercial life, self regulation is entrusted to a body of industry professionals to administer. Inside a media organisation the classic approach is to have a media Ombudsman – employed by the media company to receive and investigate complaints from newspaper readers or listeners or viewers of radio and television stations about accuracy, fairness, balance and good taste in news coverage. They can recommend appropriate remedies or responses to correct or clarify news reports. One of the earliest examples of such a position was the Asahi Shimbun newspaper in Tokyo which set up a committee in 1922 to receive and investigate reader complaints. The first newspaper ombudsman in the U.S. was appointed by the Courier-Journal and The Louisville Times in June 1967. News ombudsmen today are found throughout North and South America, Europe, and parts of the Middle East and Asia. The Ombudsman of the Guardian newspaper in the UK publishes a regular list of corrections and clarifications that respond to complaints upon coverage in the newspaper and also has the power to adjudicate more serious complaints and change the editorial policy.

Complaints mechanism can also be set up at the industry level, complementing the process within the media organisation. Many countries have press or media councils representing the media industry and established with the aim of both defending their interests and improving professional standards. In the UK, the government threatened to regulate the media’s conduct after several high profile abuses of accepted journalist standards. To avoid regulation the newspaper industry established a Press Complaints Commission and Code of Practice to allow members of the public to bring a complaint against a publication that had signed up to the Code of Conduct. The Code covers the usual areas – accuracy, respect for privacy, non harassment, reporting of young people, sexuality, crime and so on. The Commission has no legal powers – all newspapers and magazines voluntarily contribute to the costs of, and agree to abide by the findings of the Commission. In recent years about 9 out of 10 complaints have been resolved to the complainants satisfaction; although the MediaWise Trust, set up to campaign for “victims of media abuse”, has claimed that ordinary journalists voices, and those of the general public, are insufficiently represented on the Commission and that its rulings tend to favour the powerful rather than the poor.


The Global Reporting Initiative

In recent years a more comprehensive approach is being developed through the Global Reporting Initiative. The GRI is probably the world’s most common standard that ensures companies publicly report on all aspects of their economic, environmental, and social performance. The GRI seeks to make this “sustainability” a routine part of the company activity much like their financial reporting. According to the GRI 

“Sustainability reports based on the GRI Framework can be used to demonstrate organizational commitment to sustainable development, to compare organizational performance over time, and to measure organizational performance with respect to laws, norms, standards and voluntary initiatives.”

The assumption behind the GRI is that greater transparency will act as an incentive to improve standards across the fields of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The most recent figures published by the GRI show that over 1000 organisations used GRI guidelines in their reporting in 2008.

GRI is currently developing sustainability reporting guidelines for the media sector in partnership with Ibero-American New Journalism Foundation, the Avina Foundation and the Program for Journalism Studies of Javeriana University in Columbia. The guidelines are being drawn up by a range of media organisations and global stakeholders. Among the partners involved in the production of the guidelines are the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, Bertelsmann, Gestevision Telecinco from Spain, an NGO alliance the Global Forum for Media Development, Grupo Clarin from Argentina, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), The Guardian newspaper from the United Kingdom, TNT Broadcasting Network from the Russian Federation, Transparency International, Vivendi in France and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. from the USA24.

Using the UNESCO media framework indicators, the draft indicators will spell out the responsibilities of media organisations to support freedom of expression, ensure transparency of ownership and provide access to communications. Scheduled for public launch in late 2011 they could provide a useful supplement to other forms of self regulation by spelling out the obligations of media companies themselves, as distinct from their journalist or editors.

Role of internet as digital platform and implications for self regulation


The communications environment has been transformed by the ability to turn different kinds of information, whether voice, sound, image or text into digital code, accessible by a range of devices from the personal computer to the mobile phone. The emergence of the internet has transformed communication capacity from something essentially local (be it a locality or a country) into a medium that is truly global.

In their first incarnation, the internet and web were hailed as offering a new global, boundless space able to evade traditional censorship. John Gilmore, a libertarian activist and founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (whose name suggests its perspective), was quoted in Time magazine as saying “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”.25 Today, of course, the net has become a more contested, enclosed and nationalized space, but both the libertarian possibilities and the new forms of domination and control have recast the challenge to freedom of expression in the modern era.

What are the characteristics of this space that impact upon free expression rights? As a network of networks, the internet is an international platform which has no overarching jurisdiction. No single entity governs the totality of the internet: governance is provided by different components and institutions operating in very different jurisdictions. A program can be made in the Ukraine, uploaded onto a U.S. server, and downloaded in Ghana.

The international jurisdictional bodies such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN),26 the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C),27 like the national bodies which administer the national domains, are concerned with the efficient working of the system, its functionality, rather than governing the environment in the way that regulators govern broadcast media. Consequently, there is a

jurisdictional vacuum over content on the web. If there is a need for any state intervention it is not clear how such authority should be appropriately applied given that there is no means of regulating content internationally, nor any consensus on the norms that need to be applied. As a consequence a great deal of emphasis has been placed upon the importance of self regulation on line.

However there are dangers in this approach. There are no accepted self regulatory standards that have been developed for the internet environment. Consequently self regulation – principally by companies, takes place in a vacuum where it is shaped by commercial interties or private pressure from governments. For example Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which traditionally expected to be mere conduits for the services they carry are being asked to collect data on their users (for example by the EU Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC) and even monitor browsing histories through voluntary agreements with governments that have no legal scrutiny28. The lack of overt legal guidance and understandable wariness about carrying controversial material leads to overzealous actions by ISPs themselves and a willingness to take down controversial material simply if someone complains29. This results in what is, in effect, a broad regime of censorship that contrasts with the narrow interpretations of the law and careful application of standards expected in the offline world. This underlines the importance of any system of self regulation being undertaken in accordance with transparent and clear norms.

Conclusion

In summary it is important to recognise the dual character of the media and its implications. Firstly it is a site which permits the free exchange of ideas and opinion necessary in a democracy and which is therefore deserving of the highest protection and freedom from state interference. Secondly it is a social actor in its own rights, who’s choices about whether or how to cover events and whose editorial position can also shape events and in that way is required

to act in a socially responsible fashion. It is this dual character that makes an effective form of self regulation so essential.

Self regulation is not a simple matter however; it places requirements upon every level of the media organisation, on the journalist themselves, on their editors and managers, on the approach of the media organisation to the production of content and the overall behaviour of the media company. The fast evolving nature of online media, and the complex jurisdictional questions thrown up by a globalised environment, place self regulation at the heart of the evolving media landscape.

There are two overarching principles if we accept that self regulation is the necessary alternative to state control  of  the  media.  Firstly  all  media  actors, professional or business have obligations to uphold in exchange for the freedom of state interference that they  rightly  claim.  These  obligations  should  be centred on the need to protect and promote freedom of expression. Secondly, all such obligations should be made explicit and transparent and be the subject of

regular reporting in the public sphere. Both conditions are essential if self-regulation is to protect freedom of expression and not just the interests of companies themselves.