BANGLADESH: HR violations against journos go unpunished

Activist says "lack of solidarity among journalists" is primary problem in pursuit of justice for human rights violations against journalists

The Daily Star
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Human rights violations against journalists go unpunished due to lack of proper documentation and follow-up of the incidents, speakers at a training workshop said yesterday.

Disunity among journalists, politicisation of journalist unions and media houses and lack of support from owners are major obstacles to ensuring punishment to the persons responsible, they added.

The workshop on "Documenting human rights violations against journalists" was organised by Article 19, a UK-based human rights organisation working to promote freedom of expression across the globe.

Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul, head of News, ATN Bangla, said the unions of journalists in the country do not have proper documentation process of incidents of violence. Without documentation, it becomes difficult to seek justice.

Killers of most journalists, including Manik Chandra Saha, Shamsur Rahman and Goutam Das, still remain unpunished, he added.

Ricardo Javier Gonzalez Bernal, a journalist and human rights activist from Mexico, shared his experiences about the incidents of violence against journalists.

He said a total of 49 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, eight journalists still remain missing and about 200 cases of assault and death threats took place.

Organised crimes and activities of drug cartels are a huge problem in Mexico, which leads to hostility and corruption, he added.

He said the primary challenges of pursuing justice in incidents of human rights violations against journalists is lack of solidarity among journalists themselves.

Attack on journalists is a threat to democracy and the freedom of expression; it is an attack on society as a whole, he added.

Human rights activist Hameeda Hossain said incidents of violence against journalists are more prevalent during political governments. Political cadres are mostly responsible for such attacks, she said.

About 107 journalists were assaulted by party cadres across the country in 2006 while the figure was only 7 in 2007, she added.

However, a different form of repression took place during the non-political government, which includes censorship of news, she said.

Tahmina Rahman, director of Article 19 Bangladesh, columnist Jaglul Ahmed Chowdhury, Nasimun Ara Haque Minu, president of Nari Sangbadik Kendra, and Kamrul Hassan Manju, executive director of Mass-line Media Centre, also spoke.