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World Press Freedom Day and some shocking facts

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04th-May-2018       
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EVERY year on May 3, the World Press Freedom Day is observed to remind people of the perils faced by journalists around the world. However, in recent years, populist politicians across the globe have cultivated this cynicism - attacking the credibility of the press to make their own tenuous relationship with truth appear no worse. Markedly, the day was observed in Bangladesh at a time when newspaper editors, journalist union leaders and human rights activists are raising serious concerns over the proposed Digital Security Act-2018.
World Press Freedom Index-2018, published on April 25 by Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), said self censorship among journalists in Bangladesh was increasing as a result of violence against them and media outlets. With 335 incidents last year, violations of the right to freedom of expression in Bangladesh reached their highest peak in five years, according to new figures released by British Rights Organisation 'Article 19'. A journalist was killed, 28 suffered serious injuries, and a further 75 suffered serious assaults last year, it said in a statement. Moreover, the attacks were carried out with impunity, the report stated.
Two specific points of the Article 19's report caught our attention, first, our women journalists were not adequately protected from gender-specific threats, particularly on online platforms. And second, local leaders and activists of the ruling party emerged as dominant groups acting against the safety and security of journalists. In a number of cases, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, were directly involved in violations. Sadly, significance of press freedom is being continually undermined by successive regimes in Bangladesh.
We draw immediate attention of the authorities concerned to address the two issues. This spree of attacks on the rights of journalists and activists nationwide and continuing restrictive legal framework create fear and self-censorship, and prevents people in Bangladesh from speaking out, or exercising their human rights. The authorities must act promptly to ensure that laws are brought in line with international human rights standards and attacks on our free speech do not continue to go unaddressed. Although Bangladesh's position, according to World Press Freedom Index 2018 compiled by the RSF, remains 146th, the same as last year, yet self censorship among journalists was growing.
These revelations must be taken seriously, otherwise the World Press Freedom Day would only be observed as a meaningless day like many other international occasions.

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