Dhaka,  Monday
24 June 2024

Draconian laws create fearful atmosphere for journalists: Rizvi

Messenger Online

Published: 21:11, 26 May 2024

Draconian laws create fearful atmosphere for journalists: Rizvi

BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi. File Photo.

BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi on Sunday (26 May) alleged that journalists in Bangladesh are working in a fearful atmosphere, facing numerous adversities, as the government has enacted several draconian laws aimed at stifling voices.

Speaking at a programme marking the founding anniversary of Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU), he also said the Digital Security Act and Cyber Security Act are contrary to the freedom of the press.

“You have to encounter many adversities. We know you have to work in a frightening situation since various draconian laws have been enforced to silence voices. I believe you are moving ahead and continue to do that overcoming all these obstacles,” he said.

The BNP leader said the government first formulated the Digital Security Act (DSA) and then the Cyber Security Act. “Neither of these laws is pleasant for the mass media, and they do not contribute to ensuring the security of journalists."

During his stays in jails at different times, Rizvi said he found some students, journalists, and youth, irrespective of their gender, languishing in prisons for a long time in cases filed under the DSA.

“This is such a cruel law that there is no easy escape from its clutches. Most of the victims of this law are bloggers and freethinkers, who have been targeted for freely expressing their opinions. Amidst such a fearful situation, the journey of the media and journalists becomes extremely challenging," he said.

The BNP leader said not only the government, but also media owners, pose significant barriers to a free press as there is no democracy, accountability, and respect for the rights of people in the country.

"Nearly 80 percent of the wealthy individuals in the country evade taxes through various means, and many businessmen fail to properly adhere to VAT regulations. These same individuals now own media outlets. So, if such owners compel journalists to engage in unethical activities, they find it difficult to uphold their principles and ethics. Consequently, journalists are confronted with challenges from both the state and the owners of their outlets,” he said.

He expressed optimism that journalists would play a pivotal role in expanding the shrinking democratic spaces by courageously presenting the truth, regardless of the challenges they may encounter.

“It is extremely challenging for a journalists' organization to thrive in a country that lacks democracy and fails to uphold the rights of its citizens. I extend my congratulations on the 30th anniversary of DRU. I hope that DRU remains a shining example for our nation, showing the power of unity for the greater good, rising above political differences and personal opinions, and bridging the divides of our current political landscape,” Rizvi viewed.