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IPI urges for access to courts for journalists

IPI urges for access to courts for journalists

New Delhi: Voicing concern over the "continued restrictions" on journalists in covering courts including the High Court in Kerala, the International Press Institute (IPI) Thursday urged the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court to lift them.

Referring to the July 20 attack on media persons by some lawyers outside Kerala High Court Complex, the International Press Institute (IPI), an international body representing editors and scribes, also pleaded with the Chief Justice of Kerala Mohan Shantanagoudar for ensuring that journalists in the state are able to cover court proceedings "without fear of attack" or other forms of retaliation.

"We respectfully urge court officials once again to lift any restriction on journalists ability to report from Kerala courtrooms and to ensure that journalists in Kerala are able to cover the judiciary without fear of attack or other form of retaliation," IPI executive director Barbara Trionfi said in the letter to Justice Shantanagoudar.

Trionfi recalled that the IPI had on July 27 released a statement condemning the alleged acts of violence against scribes outside the High Court Complex and urged court officials to ensure journalists are allowed to report on proceedings without interference.

"Unfortunately, it is my understanding that the situation has not changed and that journalists continue to be denied access to various courts in the state of Kerala, including the Kerala High Court," she rued in the letter, a copy of which is also marked to state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Noting journalists from the southern state have to rely on public relation officers of the High Court, Trionfi stressed it is not a substitute for independent reporting, which she suggested helps ensuring that court proceedings are conducted "fairly and impartially".

"A free and independent judiciary and a free and independent press are two of the most important elements of any democratic society and both must be defended vigorously," Trionfi added.

A group of advocates had on July 20 allegedly attacked media persons outside the Kerala High Court complex in Kochi, leaving two persons injured.

The Ernakulam unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists alleged that the advocates resorted to violent protest against the media as they were provoked by its coverage of an alleged attempt by a government pleader to molest a woman here last week.

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