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TIB to police over DMP chief’s letter: Probe corruption, not source of leak

  • Published at 02:42 pm June 18th, 2020
Photo shows member of police stand guard somewhere in Dhaka Dhaka Tribune

The anti-corruption organization issued a press release in this regard on Thursday saying that this move by Bangladesh Police was a threat to the freedom of the press in the country

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has expressed its deep concerns over the recent summoning of several journalists for questioning by an inquiry committee formed after a letter of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) chief, in which he accused a joint commissioner of corruption, was leaked.

The anti-corruption organization issued a press release in this regard on Thursday saying that this move by Bangladesh Police was a threat to the freedom of the press in the country.

Addressing the issue, TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman, said: “Journalists won’t disclose their sources, this is the established norm. Now if a journalist is called up and questioned about his or her sources, in the future no one will even dare to speak up against corruption. 

“This will be considered as an obstruction to independent journalism. The policy of pressuring journalists in this way is suicidal and is also against the public interest, and may raise the question of whether a professional force like the Bangladesh Police is at all interested in curbing corruption within its own organization. ”

“TIB believes that the media is one of the main catalysts for anti-corruption activities,” said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, adding, “The DMP chief has filed a written complaint against a senior police officer over corruption. 

“I think this should have been the main concern of the police. A full and admissible investigation into the allegations against the officer in question should be prioritized. And exemplary punishment should be ensured if he is found guilty.”

“But instead the police force has become busy trying to find out from where the letter got leaked to the media. By doing this, it is losing respect as an organization, and its position regarding this issue is raising questions. 

“Moreover, it is very much possible to find out who leaked the letter by conducting an investigation within the force. But the way visible pressure has been created on our journalists by the police regarding this issue, we, the general people of the country, are now worried. ”

Stating that the police had not denied the veracity of the leaked letter, the TIB executive director demanded strong and effective action by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in this regard. 

“If the letter is true then one of the parties involved is for sure responsible for the allegations. But, surprisingly, the accused officer has only been transferred and this can’t be considered as punishment for corruption. 

“Since the police are now literally harassing journalists, the ACC should immediately launch an investigation into the corruption allegations so that appropriate legal action can be taken against the culprits,” he added.

Earlier on June 6, multiple media outlets, including Dhaka Tribune, published a story over DMP Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam’s sending a letter to the IGP requesting the transfer of a joint commissioner from the unit for offering him a bribe.

The commissioner, in a letter on May 30, said that Joint Commissioner (logistics) Md Imam Hossain was a corrupt officer, and there were graft allegations against him over various purchases of DMP.

"He (joint commissioner) even offered the commissioner a percentage from procurements of DMP. And that is why, as I understand, he should not be working in the DMP," the letter said. 

The DMP commissioner, moreover, requested the IGP to take steps immediately for the transfer of the joint commissioner.

Following the leak of the letter of the police official, letters were sent to several journalists asking them to be present at the DMP headquarters on a particular date as these journalists had published news items regarding the issue. 

The letters summoning the journalists were signed by Shah Abid Hossain, DMP joint commissioner (crime).

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