IFJ Launches Situation Reports on Bangladesh

IFJ Launches Situation Reports on Bangladesh

Wednesday, 19 December 2012, 10:57 am
Press Release: International Federation of Journalists

Media Release: South Asia
December 18, 2012

The International Federation of Journalists, in collaboration with partners and affiliates released situation reports on journalists’ rights and the state of media freedom in Bangladesh. The information presented in the report is the result of extensive consultations between the IFJ and its partners, field visits and interviews by IFJ personnel in Bangladesh.

The reports highlight the current priority areas for campaign and advocacy work inBangladesh and identify focus areas for future international solidarity actions.

In Bangladesh, the deeply polarised nature of national politics continues to create fissures within the media, with owners, who are often compelled to take sides, pressuring professional staff. Political contention is likely to mount as the country approaches national Parliamentary elections in 2013. Constitutional amendments enacted by the current government in 2011, ostensibly to imbed what it portrays as the values of Bangladesh’s liberation struggle, have led to serious discord, and opposition protests have been mounting, particularly against a clause which does away with the system of holding national elections under neutral, caretaker administrations.

After several false starts, the process of bringing to account individuals accused of crimes and atrocities during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of liberation began in 2011. But the pressures and political sensitivities associated with the proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal – a body created by Bangladesh national law – have not abated despite broad consensus on the need for accountability. Media reporting on the proceedings of the tribunal has often come under the scrutiny of the tribunal, which has twice held particular newspapers and journalists guilty of contempt.

There have been multiple cases where particular newspapers have been charged under the defamation law. The allocation of broadcast spectrum for television channels is often seen to be a source of exerting control and a form of censorship.

Safety issues were highlighted by the brutal twin murder of a journalist couple in the capital city Dhaka, in February, and in a number of retaliatory attacks by political actors, for reporting deemed as critical.

Bangladesh’s journalists began a campaign in February 2012 to secure a new wage accord for themselves. Under national law, statutory bodies are required to be created every few years to ensure that journalists’ wages and working conditions are appropriate to their requirements of sustaining a high level of professional motivation and commitment. These efforts were rewarded in June 2012, when a wage board comprising representatives of the journalists’ unions, the media industry and government was constituted under the chairmanship of a former Supreme Court judge.

Important policy changes in recent times have enabled a growth of community radio in Bangladesh, though licensing processes are seen as excessively complicated. A right to information bill enacted in 2009 promises greater accountability and transparency in governance, though it is seen to grant too many exceptions and the number of those who have been motivated to use it, is still very modest.

The situation report on Bangladesh was prepared with the financial support of UNESCO, under the International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC). The report on Bangladesh is available in English and Bangla.

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Be Sociable, Share!

এ লেখাটি প্রিন্ট করুন এ লেখাটি প্রিন্ট করুন

মন্তব্য করুন