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Dhaka Tribune

Rozina Islam gets bail

The Prothom Alo senior reporter granted bail on condition of submitting passport

Update : 23 May 2021, 10:58 AM

Prothom Alo senior reporter Rozina Islam has been granted bail in the case filed under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Baki Billah granted the bail upon bond of Tk5000 on Sunday.

Subject to the submission of the journalist's passport, the bail has been granted till July 15.

Earlier on Thursday, the court fixed Sunday for passing an order after hearing the bail petition virtually.

Also read - Dr Kamal demands immediate release of journalist Rozina

Charges of “stealing” official documents and “taking photographs” of documents were brought against Rozina Islam, an award-winning investigative journalist, who was kept confined allegedly by some Health Ministry officials for five long hours inside an official's room at the Bangladesh Secretariat on May 17.

An FIR was filed against Islam under the Official Secrets Act and sections 379 and 411 of The Penal Code on a complaint filed by the Health Services Division with Shahbagh police station.

Later, on May 18, a Dhaka court sent Islam to jail after rejecting the police's demand for her five-day remand. Islam was taken to Kashimpur Central Women's Jail on that day.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has formed a three-member probe committee to look into the allegations of the journalist's detention at the Secretariat and also her subsequent handover to the police. Meanwhile, the case filed against Islam was transferred to the Detective Branch of police on Wednesday.

Nationwide protests

Islam’s harassment for hours together with her subsequent arrest sparked condemnation across the country.

Journalists formed human chains and held rallies in the capital and other parts of the country on Wednesday demanding the "unconditional" release of Islam and the punishment of those involved in harassing her at the Secretariat.

They also demanded withdrawal of the false cases filed against the journalist.

UN’s concern

The United Nations has said Islam's arrest is obviously "something concerning,” noting that journalists need to be able to do their work free of any sort of harassment or physical threat anywhere around the world.

"Look, I've seen…we've seen the press reports on the journalist who was arrested in Bangladesh. It’s, obviously, something that we’re looking at. It’s something that's concerning," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, at a regular briefing on May 18.

Amnesty’s statement

Islam's arrest and the failure of the Bangladesh authorities to provide concrete evidence pointing to a recognizable criminal offence raise concerns that she is being targeted for her critical reporting, the Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

In the absence of such evidence, the authorities must release Islam immediately and she should not be punished for fulfilling her professional duties as a journalist, the human rights organization also said.

TIB condemns

Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB), has also strongly condemned the detention and harassment of the investigative journalist at the Ministry of Health while performing her professional duties.

In a statement issued on May 18, TIB demanded immediate withdrawal of charges and unconditional release of Islam. It has also urged the government to show prudence by ensuring exemplary punishment to the culprits through proper investigation into the incident.

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