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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Journalists killed with impunity in Commonwealth countries

photo: Manik Shaha killed for his writings in Khulna in January 2004

On the eve of Commonwealth Conference of Heads of States, press watch dog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Commonwealth heads of government to see that people killing journalists because of their work were duly punished, so the Commonwealth could become “a true home of democracy and freedom,” says RSF press release.
It noted that 15 journalists had been killed in member-states Bangladesh, Gambia, India, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka since the last summit in December 2003 and that virtually all the killers were still walking free.
“The responsibility of the democratic countries meeting at the summit in Malta from 25 to 27 November - especially Britain - is to press leaders of those six states to stop such crimes and to punish them,” the worldwide press free freedom organisation said.
Drastic steps must be urgently taken to penalise member-states that do not make genuine efforts to ensure press freedom and the safety of journalists.”
It said Presidents Yahya Jammeh of Gambia and Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka, as well as Bangladeshi home minister Lutfozzaman Babor, should be criticised by the summit for their “inability or unwillingness to put an end to the impunity enjoyed by those committing crimes against journalists in their countries.”
The media is the victim of the greatest violence in Bangladesh, where hundreds of journalists are attacked every year. Six have been killed since the 2003 summit and their killers are still at large. The most recent victim was Gautam Das, 28, correspondent of the daily Dainik Shamokal, who was brutally executed in Faridpur, west of the capital, just a few days ago, on 17 November, after investigating organised crime and abuses by local figures. He was found dead in his office with an arm and both legs broken and with neck injuries. #

source: Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

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