Delhi Gang-Rape Documentary Fallout: Government Restricts Entry of Journalists in Jail

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Delhi Gang-Rape Documentary Fallout: Government Restricts Entry of Journalists in Jail

Entry of journalists, NGO activists and filmmakers into jails has been banned by the Union Home Ministry, except under special requests


New Delhi:  Journalists, NGO activists, researchers and filmmakers can no longer enter jails, except under special conditions, says a model guideline issued by the Union Home Ministry to States on who can enter prisons.

The decision has been prompted by British Journalist Leslee Udwin film India's Daughter - a documentary on horrific gang rape of medical student in Delhi on December 16 2012. Udwin had interviewed several of key accused in the case and other under trials inside Tihar  Jail in Delhi.  Despite severe criticism, the Government banned the documentary from being aired in India.

The advisory sent to all states and Union Territories say "no private individual, press,  NGO or company should ordinarily be allowed entry into the prison for the purposes of doing research, making documentaries, writing articles or interviews etc."

The state governments may, however, allow entry if they feel that the purpose is to create a positive social impact, or the proposed work is related to prison reforms.

The guideline says, if permission is granted by the head of state prison department, then the visitor will have to pay a security deposit of Rs one lakh - a condition that did not exist in the current guideline. Surprisingly, enough the guideline allows " handy-cam, camera or tape recorder", but no book, pen or paper. Making it even more difficult for foreigners, the guideline says, foreign nationals  need to give a 60 day notice before making any visit .

Moreover, the guideline goes on to say, the jail superintendent himself has or the next senior-most officer must accompany the visitor and should intervene on the spot if the officer feels that a certain video clip or an interview being conducted is not desirable.

"After the visit is complete, the visitor shall hand over all their equipment like handy-cams, dicta-phone, camera, tape recorder or any other equipment to the jail superintendent for a period of three days. All precautions should be taken to ensure that the visitor does not leave the jail premises with the recordings," the advisory said.

Jail authorities shall then view all the recordings carefully and can delete any objectionable portion before returning the equipment to the visitor.

"The final version of the documentary, film, research paper, articles or books to be released, published has to be submitted to the concerned state government official for a final no objection certificate," said the advisory.
 


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