Journalists Imprisoned On Contempt Charges in Bangladesh

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is

alarmed at contempt of court convictions handed down by the Bangladesh Supreme

Court against a reporter, publisher and acting editor of the daily newspaper Amar Desh.



contempt petition was moved by two members of the bar after Amar Desh carried a story on April 21

suggesting that the Supreme Court bench was predisposed towards making

decisions that were favourable to the incumbent government.



Waliullah Noman has been sentenced to one month in prison and a fine of

Bangladesh Taka (BDT) 10,000 (about USD 150), and acting editor Mahmudur Rahman

has been sentenced to six months in prison and fined BDT 100,000. Publisher

Hashmat Ali was fined (BDT) 10,000. All three would have to serve jail terms if

they were to default on the fines.


Amar Desh Deputy Editor Syed Abdal Ahmad and News Editor Mujtahid Faruqui were

discharged by the court after they tendered full and unconditional apologies.



reports in Bangladesh

indicate that this is the first conviction for contempt handed down by the

country’s highest court. The verdict, delivered by the full bench of the

Bangladesh Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, leaves no options for appeal.


Rahman is

scheduled to appear before the same bench on August 24 to face contempt charges

arising from a separate report “Farce in the name of an independent judiciary”

published in the newspaper on May 10.


The Daily

Star, Bangladesh’s

leading English language daily, observed that the contempt convictions do

nothing to enhance the “dignity of the judiciary”. Referring to the institution-building

process underway since Bangladesh

returned to rule by a civilian elected government less than two years back, the

editorial observes: “What we need now is a wise leadership of the Supreme

judiciary towards strengthening all institutions that bring more freedom to

individuals and accountability of all institutions, including the judiciary”.


The IFJ Asia-Pacific reminds the judiciary in Bangladesh

of the need to promote a critical and well-informed discourse through the media

as a part of the process of building robust institutions in an emerging



“We are

aware that journalists’ organisations and press freedom bodies in Bangladesh are

divided on this issue, since Mahmudur Rahman has been associated with the party

that is currently in opposition and he is seen by many to be pursuing

oppositional politics through his newly acquired media interests,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.



this conviction arises from an article published in a newspaper that has been

in existence for a number of years. In itself, the article cannot be construed

to constitute a threat to the administration of justice.”


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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