UN human rights experts Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, have said that Rana Ayyub continues to be the victim of intense attacks online by right wing groups.
The experts, the UN said, “pointed to the attacks as being a result of her reporting on issues affecting minority Muslims in the country, her criticism of the Government for its handling of the pandemic and her comments on the recent ban on hijabs in schools and colleges in Karnataka”.
Citing anonymous death and rape threats, the UN said, “The lack of condemnation and proper investigation by the government, coupled with the legal harassment it has itself inflicted on Ms Ayyub, has only served to falsely legitimise the attacks and attackers and further endangered her safety”.
Ms Ayyub has been subjected to legal harassment by the Indian authorities in relation to her reporting for a number of years, the UN experts have said, citing the freezing of her bank account and other assets “in response to seemingly baseless allegations of money laundering and tax fraud, related to her crowd-funding campaigns to provide assistance to those affected by the pandemic”.
The false allegations, they added, can be traced back to a far-right social media group.
India strongly dismissed the allegations by the United Nation’s mission in Geneva of “judicial harassment” against journalist Rana Ayyub.
The Permanent Mission of India at Geneva asserted that the country upholds the rule of law and no one is above it.
The special rapporteurs who published this are part of the special procedures of UN Human Rights Council, and act as independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address country- specific situations.