July 31, 2021

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‘Neutral role of judiciary is essential to protect democracy and freedom of media’

Emphasizing on the impartial role of the judiciary in safeguarding democracy and freedom of the media, the journalist leaders said that the judiciary should take a stand for free journalism in the interest of the country and democracy. They said that the courts of different countries of the world are ruling in favor of free journalism today. However, we have not seen the role of the court in stopping unconstitutional laws like the Digital Security Act in Bangladesh. Journalists are being arrested. He is serving a year in jail but is not being granted bail. The country’s judiciary is called independent. But questions have been raised about how independent it is. Ruhul Amin Gazi would have been released if the country’s judiciary could have acted impartially.

This was stated by the journalists at a protest rally organized by Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists-BFUJ and Dhaka Union of Journalists-DUJ at the National Press Club on Sunday (June 13) morning.

Former President of BFUJ and National Press Club Shawkat Mahmud was the chief guest at the rally presided over by DUJ President Quader Gani Chowdhury. Speaking, BFUJ Secretary General Nurul Amin Rokon, former Secretary General MA Aziz, General Secretary of the National Press Club Ilyas Khan, DUJ General Secretary. Shahidul Islam, Dhaka Reporters Unity President Morsalin Nomani, Rafiqul Islam Azad former President Ilias Hossain, BFUJ Vice President Modabber Hossain, BFUJ Treasurer Khairul Bashar, DUJ Vice President Shahin Hasnat and Rashedul Haque, BFIE. Executive members AKM Mohsin, DUJ leader Shahjahan Saju, Dewan. Masuda, Sakhawat Hossain Ibne Moin Chowdhury and others.

BFUZ Organizing Secretary Khurshid Alam, Office Secretary Tofail Hossain, Executive Member Zakir Hossain, DUJ Former Vice President Syed Ali Asfar, DUJ Executive Member Jasmine Juhi and others were present at the occasion. Didarul Alam Didar, Organizing Secretary of DUJ and Gazi Anwarul Haque, Treasurer conducted the program.

Shawkat Mahmud said the main opposition to this government is the media. And the truth is the main enemy. He said many journalists have been detained for revealing the truth. Many journalists have been killed. Harassment is being perpetrated in lawsuits and tortures. You will not find a day during the tenure of this government when a journalist was not in jail. He demanded the release of all imprisoned journalists, including Ruhul Amin Gazi, adding that the cases could not be sustained if the judiciary ruled on the merits of the case and exercised its constitutional rights.

In this context, Shawkat Mahmud, referring to the guarantee of freedom of speech in Article 39 of our Constitution, said that our neighboring country India does not have press freedom. However, the judges of that country have recently ordered the release of the accused in many sedition cases. The journalist has declared the detention in the sedition case illegal.

Referring to two recent incidents in India and the United States, the leader of journalists said that the country’s Supreme Court has dismissed the sedition case filed by a BJP leader against journalist Binod Dua in India. The court said that according to the 1982 directive, every journalist has the right to protection in sedition cases. Because criticism of the government cannot be sedition in any way.

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that the judiciary will not pursue the practice of imposing legal obligations on journalists to find out the information of the informant in the investigation of the leaked information in the future. Our judiciary should also come forward in this way to protect the freedom of the media.

In his speech, Kader Gani Chowdhury demanded the repeal of all black laws including the Digital Security Act against free journalism and said that such a horrible law could not be imagined in any civilized country. He said the first amendment to the US Constitution was made to protect the freedom of the media. It says the US Congress will never pass a law that undermines the freedom of the press. These are the civilized. He said the freedom of the media needs to be ensured by amending the constitution of Bangladesh like the United States.

BFUJ Secretary General Nurul Amin Rokon said, “The then government could not protect itself by shutting down newspapers before ’75 and running the steamroller of torture. He said the release of all imprisoned journalists, including Ruhul Amin Gazi, was possible only if the judiciary took a neutral stance.

Referring to the last refuge of the people, MA Aziz, former secretary general of BFUJ, said the judiciary must play a role in safeguarding democracy and freedom of the media.

Ilias Khan Nishith, general secretary of the National Press Club, said that Bangladesh was known in the world as a government of votes, adding that this government was illegal. This government is authoritarian. This government can do something to survive.

DUJ general secretary. Shahidul Islam demanded immediate release of jailed journalists and withdrawal of cases of others including Shawkat Mahmud, saying Ruhul Amin Gazi was suffering from many complex diseases including kidney problems. But there is no treatment for him.