Let journalists perform their duties without fear

The Daily Star April 04, 2020

Govt must ensure their safety

We are outraged at the news of a journalist being assaulted for reporting irregularities in relief distribution in Nabiganj upazila of Habiganj last Wednesday. The journalist was beaten up with a cricket bat allegedly by a union parishad chairman and his associates for posting a Facebook live video depicting anomalies in relief distribution in the district. Seven other journalists also sustained injuries in the incident while trying to save him. Such behaviour from public representatives is shameful especially when there are allegations against them of being involved in corruption. This, however, is just one small instance of how journalists are harassed and physically attacked across the country when they go for reporting corruption and anomalies committed by government high-ups and politically powerful people. Reportedly, around the same time, another journalist in Bhola was also assaulted for reporting irregularities in relief distribution.

There were many instances in the recent past where journalists were not only harassed and attacked, but also framed in false cases due to personal vendetta. And then there are those who went missing and could not be traced by the law enforcing agencies. Only last month, a journalist went missing and another was picked up from his home at the dead of night, beaten up and framed in a false case for writing against graft. The rampant misuse of power by some of the public representatives and government high-ups against journalists is against with the democratic values we so cherish and deserves urgent attention from the government. In fact, it is through media reports that the government can keep track of whether there is any irregularity that will ultimately hamper the relief efforts it is trying to implement.

In this particular case, we hope the government will take stern action against the chairman and his men. If the chairman thought he was defamed by the journalist, he could go to the local authorities to settle the matter. By attacking the journalist, he only set a bad precedent. We strongly protest this and demand justice for him.

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