Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Wednesday came down heavily on the organisations like Amnesty International, RSF and TIB for what he said their biased reporting on human rights, press freedom and corruption in Bangladesh.
“These organisations have lost their credibility because of their partiality against Bangladesh,” Hasan told the members of Overseas Correspondents Association Bangladesh (OCAB) in reply to a question.
He said that the Bangladesh branch of Transparency International (TI) issues statements like a political party instead of any research on an issue.
In support of his criticism the minister cited a couple of recent examples such as TIB’s statement against the railway minister on the ticketless travel by three of his relatives and allegation of corruption in the treatment of Covid-19 patients in Bangladesh.
Hasan said TIB’s allegation of plundering about Tk 23,000 crore on Covid vaccines was baseless and a misreporting of what the health minister said.
Turning to the Amnesty International (AI) the minister said it was silent when BNP launched the petrol bomb campaign against the government in the name of agitation. It, however, was vocal against the trial of the war criminals in Bangladesh.
“This is how Amnesty International has lost its credibility here,” he observed.
The minister once again rejected the latest press freedom index published by Paris-based RSF (Reporters Without Border) in which Bangladesh slipped 10 notches to 162 among the 180 countries of the world where the survey was done.
How one can trust an organization which places Bangladesh behind even Afghanistan, not at all known for press freedom and security of journalists, he asked.
Responding to another question Hasan said Bangladesh Press Council and Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB) have been asked to prepare a data base of journalists in the country.
This, he said, is aimed at identifying the genuine journalists so they get security in carrying out their work and keeping the job.
When done the proposed data base will also leave out those who are not journalists at all.
Hasan reiterated that the Digital Security Act (DSA) has been made for the overall security of the people from digital harassment and assaults on their dignity and privacy.
“This is absolutely not against journalists,” he reaffirmed though admitting abuses in some cases.
He said there have been some abuses of the law against journalists and the government acted to stop it.
No case under the DSA can be filed now without permission from the police and no journalist can either be arrested in sweeping action, he said. “The interests of journalists are being protected,” he said.
In his opening remarks Hasan highlighted the achievements of his ministry in safeguarding the interests of journalists and creation of an environment congenial to their work.
He especially referred to the formation of Sangbadik Kallyan Trust by the order of the prime minister and distribution of about Tk 23 crore among media people since its start in 2014.