Press freedom at stake as violence against journalists on

THE sorry state of press freedom has long been an issue of concern for journalists and rights groups in Bangladesh, with both state and non-state actors coming to use repressive grips to escalate the situation. International human rights organization and press freedom campaigner Article 19 has expressed concern about the deterioration of press freedom in Bangladesh. The organization criticized relentless violence against journalists and noted that three journalists were killed and 118 were injured in January-June – a DBC news production manager was found dead on June 8, a journalist based in Patuakhali was found dead on June 6 and a Cumilla-based journalist was shot dead on April 13. In addition, at least 118 journalists were attacked for carrying out their professional duties during this period. What is extremely worrying is that most of the incidents have not been properly investigated and the perpetrators have not been punished, which has created a culture of impunity. It has also resulted in, as Article 19 puts it, a culture of “self-censorship”, with journalists feeling intimidated in the performance of their duties.

Article 19 also denounces the misuse of what it calls a “deeply flawed” digital security law and says that at least 35 lawsuits against 71 journalists have been filed under the law and 16 have been arrested. in 2021, while 10 lawsuits were filed against 23 journalists under the law. and three journalists were arrested in January-May 2022. The number of cases filed under the law has reached, as reported by the Center for Governance Studies, around 4,000 since the law was passed. A large number of cases are directed against journalists. The 2022 World Press Freedom Index also points to the alarming state of press freedom in Bangladesh, ranked 162nd out of 180 countries, 10 notches lower than 152nd in the 2021 index. most South Asian neighbors were ranked above Bangladesh in the index. In 2021, a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists showed that at least 23 journalists had been killed in Bangladesh between 1992 and 2021 as the torture and harassment of journalists continued unabated. At least 2,257 incidents of torture, harassment, threats by law enforcement, death threats by ruling party or government officials or anonymous calls against journalists took place between January 2012 and September 2021 and at least 17 journalists were, as Ain O Salish Kendra says, killed while carrying out their professional duty and two others were assassinated.

The government must realize that freedom of the press holds power to account and therefore serves the people and democracy. The government must therefore ensure that justice is done as soon as possible in cases related to the murder and attacks on journalists. The government must also amend the Digital Security Act to end its misuse and abuse.

Comments are closed.