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Info minister: Government working to ensure media freedom

  • Published at 10:59 pm May 2nd, 2019
File photo of Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud Dhaka Tribune

The minister said journalists must be responsible with their freedom

The Bangladesh government is working to ensure the freedom of mass media platforms in the country, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud has said.

The minister remarked this at a event marking World Press Freedom Day, titled "State of Mass Media: Bangladesh Perspective", at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Thursday.

The minister said: "The present government's motto is to build a multi-dimensional society; and freedom of the media is a must have in order to do that." 

Hasan Mahmud, also the Awami League's publicity and publication secretary—while claiming that the Bangladeshi media industry is enjoying full freedom—said that journalists must be responsible with their freedom.

"The Digital Security Act has been enacted for all—which includes all journalists as well—so that justice for the victims of digital crimes can be ensured."

However, the minister further claimed that the government will be very careful so that no-one can abuse and misuse these laws to harass journalists.

"Digital security is a very new thing," Hasan said. "It was not there 10 years ago; it is a very recent issue. Digital security has become very important, both here and all over the world, and they are all enacting laws to solve the problem."

The minister alleged that most of the corporate houses have been using the media to safeguard their businesses.

He said: “Journalists should be working for the sake of government and the country, not for corporations."

Describing media as the "fourth pillar" of the state, the information minister said Bangabandhu had fought his whole life for freedom of media, and now the Awami League government is working to carry on his legacy.

The minister criticized a recent index published by Reporters without Borders, also known as Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), saying that the report was not authentic and completely biased.

In April, in a RSF survey of 180 countries and their relationship with the media, Bangladesh was ranked 150th in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, dropping four notches from last year’s 146th.

Reporters without Borders is a Paris-based international non-profit, non-governmental organization that conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom of information and freedom of the press.

Speaking at the event, former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University AAMS Arefin Siddique described journalists as "pen-warriors in the fight for truth".

“Journalists are pen-warriors who always stand for truth,” he said.

Arefin Siddique, also a professor of mass communication and journalism, said the government should implement rules to save journalism from corporate mafia.

Senior journalist Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul claimed that around 20 on-duty journalists have been killed in the last 10 years all across the country. 

But the journalist society is yet to receive any justice.

He also alleged that police and political activists are using the Digital Security Act as a weapon to harass journalists. 

Editor-in-Chief of GTV Syed Ishtiaque Reza presented the key note paper at the discussion, where all stakeholders were urged to work together to ensure media freedom.

National Press Club President Saiful Alam chaired the discussion, which was attended by senior journalists and journalist leaders.