Reji Joseph from Kottayam in Kerala took to journalism after doing his
Master's in Economics. He is the winner of a number of awards in journalism
for political and rural reporting. For the PUCL Award he submitted a series
on prisoners without bail and trial, another series on foeticide, and
one article on bonded labour.
The one-lakh eighty thousand estimated under trial prisoners in the country,
of whom about three thousand are estimated to be in Kerala, are condemned
without being sentenced. These forgotten citizens of the country sometimes
spend more time in jail then they would if they were sentenced for the
crime for which they were booked. He dug up the case of a prisoner who
had completed a life imprisonment without being prosecuted. Reji Joseph
has vividly described the apathy and the cruelty of the prison system,
the inhuman conditions in which these human beings are kept, and the suffering
that is inflicting upon their families.
The notorious practice
of sex-determination test all over the country and the clandestine practice
of killing the girl yet-to-be-born has been dealt with by Reji Joseph
very sensitively. He has followed case histories and brought out the tragedy
of being a woman in our society. The gender bias is so deep in our society
that even mothers take initiative for indulging in this crime. He has
ably shown that it is not poverty, male domination, and the inheritance
system only but also the social beliefs that are responsible for opening
the doors of this gold mine to unscrupulous medical practitioners who
unashamedly take advantage of modern scientific development and kill the
In one small piece he underlines the misery and the agony of the bonded
labourers, including women and children, for whom no law operates.
It is for his insight, sensitivity, and effective portrayals that the
Jury of the twenty-first PUCL 'Journalism for Human Rights' Award selected
him for this Special mention.
K.G. Kannabiran, President,
People's Union for Civil Liberties
March 23, 2002 Mangalore