Today CRNI is one of four co-signatories to Reporters Without Borders’ open letter to the Bangladeshi premier Sheikh Hasina, raising concerns over press freedom violations amid measures to counter COVID-19.
Since the beginning to the anti-viral lockdown in Bangladesh dozens of journalists, media workers and commentators have been subjected to violence and detention without due process.
Of particular concern to CRNI is the cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, arrested May 6th under Bangladesh’s notorious Digital Security Act and held without bail despite the many thousands of others granted clemency of late, the urgent threat of COVID-19 within the prison population and the ensuing Cyclone Amphan that tore through the country last month.
Specifically, we call upon Prime Minister Hasina to:
- Make sure physical attacks against reporters do not go unpunished by ensuring that the attorney general orders the investigations that are needed for the perpetrators and instigators to be arrested and tried for their actions.
- Drop abusive prosecutions of journalists, bloggers and cartoonists under the Digital Security Act.
- Reform press freedom legislation so that it complies with the undertakings Bangaldesh’s government has given to international bodies including the UN Human Rights Council on 14 May 2018 and to this end amend the Digital Security Act and draft a law on protecting journalists.
Meanwhile we await assurances regarding Mr Kishore’s welfare, with specific health concerns in mind, as well as guarantees of his speedy release from custody which has been totally unjustified and inexcusable throughout this crisis.