Shahina KK among recipients of International Press Freedom Awards

One of the first Indian journalists to be charged under UAPA

2022 International Press Freedom Awardee Niyaz Abdullah (left) with 2023 IPFA Awardees (from second from left to right) Ferdinand Ayité, María Teresa Montaño, Nika Gvaramia, and Shahina K.K. on November 16. (Photo via CPJ/Barbara Nitke)

Indian journalist Shahina KK is among the four winners of the 2023 recipients of its International Press Freedom Awards, conferred by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based non-profit, to recognize their achievements in pursuing press freedom.

This year’s honorees have faced – and overcome – imprisonment, harassment, years of legal challenges, and threats of extreme violence as they gather the news, CPJ said. “The information they have gathered – at great risk and great cost – is crucial to the people in their nations and to the world at large.” The IPFA recipients were honored at a November 16 ceremony in New York.

Shahina KK is a veteran journalist who has shed light on issues such as gender, human rights, and marginalized communities. Shahina, now a senior editor with Outlook magazine, was one of the first journalists in India to be charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA. She is out on bail pending trial.

When she was a reporter with Tehelka, the Kochi-based journalist was booked by Karnataka Police in 2010 on two penal charges for reporting on lapses in the police investigation into the 2008 Bengaluru blasts, CPJ said.

By honoring Shahina with this year’s IPFA, CPJ shines a spotlight on 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,” CPJ said.

It has been a tough journey for the last 13 years of endless runs between police stations, courthouses and lawyers’ offices. I dedicate this award to all the journalists who are beaten, killed and framed for doing their job,” Outlook quoted Shahina as saying.

Among the other recipients, Togo’s Ferdinand Ayité, one of his country’s most targeted journalists in recent years, has faced persistent legal harassment and threats that forced him into exile, CPJ said.

Mexico’s Maria Teresa Montaño is one of the first reporters to actively investigate corruption, transparency, and accountability in a region where critical reporting is rare and journalists often face extreme violence.

Georgia’s Nika Gvaramia, founder of independent broadcaster Mtavari Arkhi, has served more than a year of a 3.5-year sentence – widely denounced as politically motivated – before receiving a presidential pardon in June 2023.

The committee also presented the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award – given annually to an individual who has shown extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom – to former Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen.

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