Silencing, thwarting, or intimidating the free press would be a catastrophe for any democratic society
A sobering statistic: Over 600 journalists and media workers have been killed in the past decade. According to the UN, 9 out of 10 of these deaths remain unresolved.
In Bangladesh, many journalists live in constant fear of repercussions of their work. The duty of the news media is to report the truth without political bias, and yet, fear looms over the sector, as journalists get harassed, bullied, intimidated, coerced, assaulted, and in the worst cases, murdered, for doing their jobs.
When it comes to the World Press Freedom Index, Bangladesh is not a high performer. Here, journalists have to deal not only with various hostile individuals that try to stand in the way of their work, but also unfair laws that punish them for no reason other than causing offense to some vested party or other. The DSA, an ambiguous law with much scope for abuse and misinterpretation, has been at play for quite some time, and a large number of journalists have been its casualties.
We are living in a world flooded by unreliable information. As social media takes over, causing an epidemic of “fake news,” it becomes more important than ever before to have professional journalists parsing through the facts, subjecting these facts to the rigours of the journalistic discipline, and bringing them to the public. Silencing, thwarting, or intimidating the free press would be a catastrophe for any democratic society.
We hope the government gives journalists the credit and the respect they deserve, and take seriously all crimes committed against them. The list of horrible crimes committed against Bangladeshi journalists in recent years is a very long one. It is time to show that these crimes will not go unpunished.