PUCL Bulletin, May 2002

Special Mention

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 unborn.

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