Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Wednesday said the recent attacks on journalists in the course of their professional work – collecting information about irregularities and corruption – are not isolated incidents, but rather attempts at an abuse of political power and suppression of press freedom.
The Bangladesh chapter of the Berlin-based anti-graft watchdog Transparency International made the remarks in a press statement issued yesterday, in which it also demanded justice for every single incident and a special law to protect journalists.
"When the people of the country are facing a multi-faceted crisis due to money laundering and various forms of corruption by influential and powerful corrupt people, a series of attacks on journalists have been taking place. These are not isolated incidents at all," TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said.
"In particular, the recent brutal attacks on journalists of several television channels and newspapers while they were collecting information on medical sector corruption in Barishal clearly show how reckless, powerful and organised the corrupt are! They do not care about any state authority."
He also added that such behaviour proves that the corrupt get protection from influential quarters.
"Despite such incidents of torture on journalists happening regularly, exemplary punishment is almost absent, about which we have been expressing concern for long," Iftekharuzzaman said.
TIB in its statement said at least 119 journalists suffered various forms of torture from January to July this year. Of them, 38 were attacked while performing their professional duties and 19 were sued for publishing news.
Referring to the Press Freedom Index 2022, at which Bangladesh's position fell by 10 notches to rank 162nd out of 180 countries, the anti-graft watchdog said journalism in Bangladesh is becoming tougher day by day.
To prevent such heinous incidents, TIB called for the effective implementation of eight recommendations of the United Nations' 2018 Universal Periodic Review related to the safety and security of journalists.