Friday, July 19

Govt using state to curb media



The ruling party in Bangladesh is using state mechanisms to curb the media, says a report published by London-based rights group Article 19.

The report finds that violation of freedom of expression in Bangladesh rose alarmingly to over 33 percent in 2014, what was 12.5% in the previous year.

“An overall 23% were carried out by the police, special forces such as the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and detective branch of police,” the report said.

The report was released today on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, reflecting on how the past year went for journalists in Bangladesh.

“The report did not record a single conviction for violence against journalists in 2014,” it reads. “The report worrying patterns of insufficient legal action against attacks on journalists, taking no steps in 56.55 percent of the cases.”

“…inconsistencies and ambiguities in laws provide ample opportunities to use the law as an instrument for harassment,” it said citing the ICT law.

“…we call on the government that it adopt a holistic protection approach to address issues of protection, safety and impunity…” said Tahmina Rahman, director of Article 19 Bangladesh and South Asia, in a press release.

In conclusion, the report said that the culture of getting away only served to embolden state actors, even those outside the remit of law enforcement.

It also added that opportunities for arbitrary use of laws is promoting a culture of fear and resulting in shrinking space for online expression, tacitly forcing online activists, users and bloggers to resort to self-censorship when expressing their views.