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Press freedom must be defended

  • Published at 12:04 am June 9th, 2019
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Photo: BIGSTOCK

A country wishing to be seen as a successful democracy cannot afford to ignore the importance of a free press

In recent years, Bangladesh has experienced a shrinking of media freedom, which does not bode well for the health of our democracy.

While we, as a nation, are achieving so many victories on so many fronts, from the economic development to sports, it is a sad commentary that press freedom is lagging behind, with many journalists still finding themselves under fire for simply doing their jobs.

Every year, the World Press Freedom Index is published, and Bangladesh’s performance this year was dismal, coming in 150th, which is close to the end of the list -- even four notches lower than last year.

Recent moves by the government, such as the Digital Security Act, have only added to the deep concern felt by upholders of press freedom everywhere, because while the law has some good intentions, there is much scope for abuse.

A country wishing to be seen as a successful democracy cannot afford to ignore the importance of a free press, especially a country like ours, which is on the verge of middle-income status. 

The developed countries of the world are watching closely, and protecting the sanctity of our journalism is important not only to safeguard human rights, but for our image in the world.

At the recently held Global Media Forum 2019 in Bonn, Germany organized by public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Peter Limbourg, director general of Deutsche Welle said: “Freedom of press is not a luxury. It is a fundamental right for all citizens.”

These words have been said before, but they are worth repeating, because we are in danger of forgetting this basic fact.