Although there is a guarantee in the constitution, the US observes that the freedom of expression in Bangladesh has been curtailed.
The US State Department’s report on the human rights situation in the world released on Tuesday highlighted this observation about Bangladesh. It also said that Bangladeshi journalists have also withdrawn from criticizing the government for fear of harassment and torture.
International human rights organizations have been vocal about the situation in Bangladesh for some time. However, the government has been rejecting it. Yesterday, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud said that the freedom enjoyed by the media in Bangladesh is not available in many developed countries.
However, the US report on 2020 has the opposite picture. It said the government has occasionally failed to uphold the freedom of expression and the media guaranteed in Bangladesh’s constitution.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Dhaka said in a statement that the United States will continue to work with Bangladesh to uphold and advance democracy, good governance and human rights.
Extensive enforcement of digital security laws has also been raised in the US Human Rights Report.
Referring to the increase in punishment for crimes such as sedition, it said that while it would reduce hate speech, it was not clear which crimes would be criminalized under the law. As a result, the government has the opportunity to implement this law as much as possible.
The report says the government has used the law extensively to suppress questions about its activities since the start of the coronavirus epidemic. The report also mentions the refusal of health officials to speak to journalists.
In the first week of May last year, the report mentioned the details of the case against at least 19 people, including journalists and human rights activists, under the Digital Security Act. It is also mentioned that the editorial board will respond to the fact that this law has become an obstacle to investigative journalism.
According to the report, print and online media critical of the government in Bangladesh are under pressure from the government. The government also controls private television stations because of its licensing power.
The report also said that another example of pressure on the media is to advertise their income. It has been said that the government advertisements have been partially stopped and the intelligence agencies have been pressuring the non-governmental organizations not to give advertisements. There have been allegations from journalists and media. This weapon of blocking advertisements is being used to punish the media that is criticizing.
In this situation, the media is reluctant to work freely, the report said, adding that the news managers of investigative journalists are suppressing their reports without publishing many reports for fear of being pressured by the government or intelligence agencies.
The report also raises the issue of Internet control to prevent independent expression. The United States is also talking about some control over research.
The report also cited the government’s use of epidemic sanctions as a deterrent to peaceful protests. It also mentions the obstruction of anti-government protests by government supporters.
The report on extrajudicial killings said there were many allegations that the government and its agents were committing such illegal acts.
A statement from the US Embassy in Dhaka said that in accordance with US law, the State Department publishes an annual country-wide annual report on human rights practices. However, no legal decision is given in this report. The goal is to hold those who violate human rights accountable.
“Increasing respect for human rights is not something to be done alone, but the best way to achieve it is to work with our allies and partners around the world, including in Bangladesh,” the statement said. President Joe Biden is committed to a foreign policy that combines democratic values with our diplomatic leadership. It is a foreign policy focused on democracy and the protection of human rights. “