RSF alerts UN rapporteur about threats to Indian recipient of its press freedom prize

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has sent an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions following a surge in death threats to Swati Chaturvedi, an Indian journalist who is one of the recipients of this year’s RSF Press Freedom Prize.

“One more Gauri Lankesh in the making,” says one of the recent threatening tweets about Chaturvedi. It refers to the murder of Gauri Lankesh, a fellow journalist who was gunned down outside her home last year.

Chaturvedi, who received the RSF “Prize for Courage” at a ceremony in London on 8 November, told RSF that she gets “about a dozen of the threats every week” and that that she “can’t even keep up” with them.

Because of the surge in online threats, RSF addressed an urgent appeal on 28 November to Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

“This type of comment can no longer be taken lightly in the current context, in which online threats can now lead to physical attacks,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “We call on the Indian authorities to do everything possible to guarantee Swati Chaturvedi’s safety and to prosecute those responsible for these hate messages.”

The author of the tweet referring to Gauri Lankesh identifies himself in his profile as “a proud Hindustani.” Chaturvedi has repeatedly been target of online threats and hate campaigns ever since writing a bestseller entitled “I am a troll” about her undercover research into the troll armies used by the Hindu nationalist right.

But the threats recently surged dramatically after a Brut India video highlighting Chaturvedi’s RSF Prize award and her troll army book went viral.

India is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 23.08.2019