On World Press Freedom Day, Wednesday, May 3, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined five civil society organizations in a statement calling on the Bangladesh government to end the harassment of journalists and protect media freedom ahead of the national elections scheduled for January 2024.
The statement calls on the Bangladesh government to immediately suspend the use of the draconian Digital Security Act pending its repeal or amendment in line with international human rights law. The DSA has repeatedly been used against journalists in retaliation for their work on topics including governmental policies, corruption, and illicit business practices.
The statement notes the March arrest of Shamsuzzaman Shams, a correspondent for the newspaper Prothom Alo, under the DSA and the subsequent DSA investigations opened into Shams, Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman, executive editor Sajjad Sharif, an unnamed camera operator, and other unidentified people in connection to Shams’ reporting on price hikes. Shams has since been released on bail.
The statement expresses concern regarding the weaponization of other laws against journalists and the media, noting the ongoing investigation of Prothom Alo special correspondent Rozina Islam under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act and the penal code in apparent retaliation for her reporting on alleged government corruption and irregularities in the public health sector at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the full statement here.