Reporters Without Borders deplores the blacklisting by the Indian authorities of journalists from the Danish public broadcaster Danmarks Radio. Among them is Tom Heinemann, winner of the 2011 Lorenzo Natali Journalism Grand Prize, awarded by the European Commission for outstanding journalistic work in the field of human rights.
On 1 February, Heinemann and Lotte La Cour, his wife and camerawoman, were again refused visas by the Indian embassy in Copenhagen.
“We are shocked by the attitude of the Indian authorities who persist in their policy of discriminating against journalists accredited to respected media organizations,” the international press freedom organization said.
“The Indian government must stop reserving the right to refuse admission to journalists whenever their work is deemed too critical. Such refusals are in direct violation of freedom of information and contrary to the spirit of the Indian constitution.”
No explanation was given to the journalist, who made an audio recording of his discussion at the embassy in which diplomatic officials can be heard saying they are not obliged to give a reason for the refusal.
The head of the Danish journalists’ union yesterday met the Danish foreign minister to discuss ways of ensuring the ban on Danmarks Radio journalists is lifted.
Heinemann told Reporters Without Borders: “This is not only a big problem for me and my camerawoman. This is a general assault on the freedom of expression. Any journalist should protest against this.
"The Indian authorities claim that India is the world’s biggest democracy. When they can exclude named journalists, even groups of journalists, like my colleagues at Danish Broadcasting Corporation, this has nothing to do with democracy"
The most recent documentary made by DR in India, entitled “Blood sweat and T-shirts” and broadcast in 2010 on Danish public television, was believed to be one of the in-depth reports that led to India’s ban on all DR journalists
The Indian authorities have had their sights on Heinemann and La Cour since their film “A Killer Bargain”, which they shot during a visit made on tourist visas, came out in 2005. The award-winning documentary, which was translated into Hindi, annoyed the Indian authorities and led to the imposition of an entry ban on Heinemann in September 2006.
Heinemann subsequently wrote to the Indian embassy in Copenhagen several times to explain that the documentary was also an indictment of Danish companies that did not provide adequate working condition for employees in India.
India is ranked 131st in the 2011-2012 world press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.