‘51% victims of press freedom violations in Bangladesh are journalists’
Like previous years, the UN day to ensure freedom of expression – ‘World Press Freedom Day’ – is going to be observed in Bangladesh on Friday like elsewhere in the word.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day is being observed with the theme – Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.
Article 19, an international organization, in its annual report on violations of freedom of expression in the country for 2018, reveals that 51% victims are national journalists.
In a press release issued on Thursday, it says two journalists were murdered, 19 were seriously physically assaulted, and 156 were victims of different kind of physical attacks in 2018.
“51% of the victims are national journalists. Female journalists face sexual violence and intimidation during their activities.”
Despite being a signatory of the UN Resolution on the protection of journalists agreed in 2017, Bangladesh has experienced highest number of violations in 2018, a year after the signature, with 463 violations of freedom of expression last year, it mentioned.
This is the highest in number within five years time frame, it mentioned.
Some 212 incidents have been witnessed where the journalists were ‘threatened’ in 2018 which was the highest. The number of legal harassment was 169 in 2017. In 2018, the number of physical attacks had increased compared to last year which was 156 in 2018 and 113 in 2017.
The report claimed that even female journalists faced sexual violence during their information-technology related activities as well. 71 cases were filed under section 57 of ICT Act (Digital Security Act) 2018 whereas at least 31 defamation cases were launched.
The country also witnessed 9 illegal arrest warrants and 20 more different types of legal harassment last year while two journalists were murdered and 19 were seriously assaulted.
Meanwhile, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) in its recent report said some 207 journalists were harassed last year. Among them at least 70 journalists were harassed by ruling party members or by its affiliated organizations’ members.
18 journalists were harassed by the law enforcers last years, it added.
The ASK report said at least three journalists died under unnatural circumstances. Among them two were killed by miscreants and one was found hanging at his apartment.
Government working to ensure media freedom, says info minister
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Thursday said the government is working to ensure the freedom of mass media platforms in the country.
The minister remarked this at an event marking World Press Freedom Day, titled "State of Mass Media: Bangladesh Perspective," at the Dhaka's National Press Club.
The minister said: "The present government's motto is to build a multi-dimensional society; and freedom of the media is a must have in order to do that."
Hasan Mahmud, also the Awami League's publicity and publication secretary—while claiming that the Bangladeshi media industry is enjoying full freedom—said that journalists must be responsible with their freedom.
"The Digital Security Act has been enacted for all—which includes all journalists as well—so that justice for the victims of digital crimes can be ensured."
However, the minister further claimed that the government will be very careful so that no-one can abuse and misuse these laws to harass journalists.
Bangladesh drops 4 notches in World Press Freedom Index
Reporters without Border (RSF) in their survey of 180 countries and their relationship with the media, said that Bangladesh was ranked 150th in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, dropping four notches from last year’s 146th.