IFJ Questions Defamation Action Against Journalists in Bangladesh

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates and partners in the South

Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) caution against drastic action in a case

involving three journalists from the Bangla language daily Jugantor,

after defamation charges were laid against them by a Minister in the Bangladesh



Editor Salma Islam, executive

editor Saiful Alam and reporter Jashim Chowdhury were issued a summons by the

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate on September 13, after Bangladesh’s Minister for Shipping,

Shahjahan Khan, filed a defamation case against the trio.


This followed the publication of two

reports in Jugantor which questioned the high expenses incurred by the

Ministry of Shipping in foreign travel by the minister and his political



The journalists have been ordered to

appear in the magistrate’s court on October 18.


“The IFJ is concerned that this

quick recourse to criminal defamation action has a chilling effect on free and

fair journalism, and does little to advance the public interest,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“We urge Minister Khan and his

political associates to deal with any complaints via independent institutions

such as the Press Council of Bangladesh, and thereby set a good example and

precedent for the amicable settlement of grievances about media content.”


The IFJ and SAMSN also express

concern over the continuing detention of Mohammad Ekramul Haq, who was arrested

on July 31 on charges of extortion.


Initially remanded for two days on

charges filed by a local businessman, he was ordered detained for a further two

days on identical charges filed by the leader of an association of government



The Sheersha News web portal and the

associated Sheersha Kagoj newspaper, of which Haq is the editor, have

since shut down due to a drying up of financial support.


“The IFJ urges that Haq’s case be

reviewed by the appropriate judicial authorities, and action taken to ensure

journalists are not held on flimsy charges over extended periods,” Park said.


“The detention of Haq not only

violates his rights but, in a situation of weakly institutionalised newspaper

industry, has a serious impact on media diversity and choice in Bangladesh.”


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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