Amnesty slams suppression of press freedom in Bangladesh

Dhaka, Apr 12 (EFE).- Amnesty International on Wednesday flagged rising harassment and use of oppressive laws against journalists in Bangladesh, citing it as evidence of the deteriorating freedom of press in the country, after the government launched an attack on one of the biggest national newspapers.

Bengali daily Prothom Alo has joined a growing list of media outlets “to come under increasing attack including intimidation, harassment and arrest of journalists” after a group of people barged into the newspaper’s offices on Monday to issue threats, AI said in a statement.

The criticism comes hours after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, speaking in the parliament, accused Prothom Alo of being “an enemy of the Awami League (her party), democracy, and the people of Bangladesh.”

“Penalizing a media outlet, publisher or journalist solely for being critical of the government or the policies it promotes is a restriction of the right to freedom of expression that can never be justified,” said Yamini Mishra, regional director for South Asia at Amnesty International.

The attacks against Prothom Alo come after the daily’s journalist Shamsuzzman Shams was granted bail on Monday, following his arrest under the controversial Digital Security Act on allegations of publishing a “false report” on the rising cost of life in the country and the alleged use of a manipulated photograph.

“The attacks on Prothom Alo, which has the largest daily circulation, come close on the heels of the closure of Daily Dinkal, the only newspaper belonging to the main opposition party, last month,” Mishra added.

According to data released by Ain o Salish Kendra, a human rights and legal aids organization in Bangladesh that was cited by AI, “a total of 56 journalists have been tortured, harassed, sued, intimidated and obstructed from doing their jobs in the first three months of 2023.” EFE


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