Sunday, January 28, 2007

CPJ welcomes government pledge to withdraw restrictions



New York, January 29, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists released the following statement today in response to media reports that Bangladesh’s interim government is reconsidering proposed guidelines for the media that would threaten journalists who violate the new rules with a maximum of five years and a minimum of two years in jail, plus fines. The government is also calling for meetings with media representatives, according to local news reports.

“We welcome the government’s assurances that it will not impose the drastic restrictions on the media that were to go into effect on January 26, but we will continue to monitor developments in Bangladesh closely,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We encourage the interim government to do everything in its power to ensure that Bangladeshi journalists are free to pursue their work during this important period in the country’s history,” #


CPJ urges Bangladesh to rescind emergency media rules

New York, January 26, 2007
The Committee to Protect Journalists is greatly concerned about new regulations imposed by the Bangladeshi interim government that severely restrict news reporting. The Emergency Powers Rules of 2007, announced on Thursday, restrict press coverage of political news and set penalties of up to five years in prison for violations.

The new rules aim at a wide range of political activities. Those dealing specifically with media allow the government to ban or censor print and broadcast news about rallies and other political activities that it deems “provocative or harmful.” Under the rules, the government can seize printed material and confiscate printing presses and broadcast equipment. The government also has power under the regulations to censor or block news transmitted in any form.

“These rules give authorities sweeping powers of censorship that will deprive Bangladeshi citizens of independent information at this critical time of political upheaval,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “We call on the interim government to rescind these repressive rules immediately.”

Bangladesh has been embroiled in political turmoil since October, when Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s administration came to an end in the run-up to constitutionally mandated elections. Voting had been scheduled for this week but was postponed when opposition parties protested irregularities. President Iajuddin Ahmed stepped down as leader of the caretaker government and declared a state of emergency on January 11, following bitter clashes between supporters of the two major rival parties.

The regulations took effect today and will remain in force until the government lifts the state of emergency, according to Thursday’s announcement.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org.

Bob Dietz bdietz@cpj.org
Asia Program Coordinator
Kristin Jones kjones@cpj.org
Asia Program Senior Researcher
Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Ave, 11th floor
New York, NY 10001
+1 212 465 1004
www.cpj.org