Nothing good can come of the government keeping tabs on journalists.
It is worrying that the information minister has taken the initiative to prepare a list of “genuine journalists,” which would be prepared by the Sangbadik Kalyan Trust, a recently-formed organisation.
With freedom of the press already a contentious issue, a directive such as this only serves to push us further in the wrong direction.
With the minister yet to highlight the process through which the so-called “genuineness” of journalists will be vetted, we must ask: What is the meaning of this?
How does the government plan to designate such a status on journalists? What are the criteria?
And what are the qualifications of those entrusted to assess journalists and compile such a list?
On top of these obvious questions, there is the risk of the list-making process being influenced by perceived political leanings of the journalists, which must be avoided at all costs.
Instead of holding the press to higher standards of truthfulness and veracity, the move will only allow politically influential individuals to serve their own personal agendas.
Such a list is an ominous sign for a democracy, and would further compromise the already unsteady relationship between journalists and government officials.
The trust and cooperation that exists between the press and government will be threatened if such a move is taken.
Already, Reporters Without Borders classifies Bangladesh as a country where press freedom is in a “difficult situation.”
Let us not make it worse.