The World Press Freedom Day is being observed in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world today amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly declared 3 May a World Press Freedom Day to increase consciousness of the value of freedom of the press and to inform governments of their responsibility to protect and maintain the right to freedom of speech enshrined in Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This year’s theme is “Journalism without Fear or Favour.
Journalists, rights activists, and civil society representatives urged the government to take effective steps to ensure freedom of the press and called for the unconditional abolition of all limitations on the media and the creation of a free and open journalism environment.
VOICE, research, and advocacy organization based in Dhaka hosted an online discussion today in observance of World Press Freedom Day.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE told that nearly 54 journalists were brutally attacked, intimidated, harassed, or arrested since January 2020 to date which is alarming. And in April alone nearly 20 journalists were brutally attacked, intimidated, harassed, or arrested either by pollical leadership, hooligans and administration due to covering the news of corruption and misappropriation.
Faruq Faisal, South Asia regional director of Article 19 told that the government must uphold the spirit of constitutional obligations and should stop misinformation with proportionate measures.
Journalists working for true information are facing multi-faceted challenges including lack of access to information, restrictions, and pressure from the administration, and due to these hurdles, the journalists have been badly suffered.
Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua said that despite the hurdles, problems, and challenges, journalists perform their professional duties. He mentioned that though government claims free media existence, in fact, no step has been taken by the government for the freedom of media yet. He also emphasized to reform legal provisions for the freedom of the press.
Arshad Siddiqui, Planning Editor of Shampratik Deshkal, told that journalists are playing a front-line role as warriors. However, they are facing huge challenges including attacks and harassments in the course of their line duty along with arbitrary detention, threats, and intimidation.
Saimum Reza Talukder urged the government to cooperate journalists for producing the authentic information and messages for public interest in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speakers said that free press and access to information are the basics for journalism and government should immediately provide rights benefits and basic facilities to the journalists so they will perform their professional duties without pressures and hurdles, they demanded. Abtab Khan Shawon, the research associate of VOICE presented the keynote in the meeting.
Among others, KM Enamul Haque of CAMPE Abdul Quader of SETU, Masud Khan, consultant of ALRD also spoke in the meeting. The participants showed deep condolence to the two journalists who died in COIVID 19.