Persecution of speech: When Opinion sees Obstacle
Utpal Dutta, Editorial Assistant, The New York Times, Bangladesh National Section : An individual along with the community necessarily enjoy and must have the right to coherent their speech, opinion and ideas. “Freedom of Expression’, a widely used notion includes people’s act of pursuing, greeting and imparting ideas and information no matter the media they use. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR.
Regrettably, Journalists are facing an “unprecedented” wave of attacks in Bangladesh while fear of reprisal stopped individuals to criticize the government publicly. Government are often found to take attempts to impede criticism by shutting down a number of electronic and print media in view of their critical reports against the government. Scores of attacks on journalists, according to Human Rights Support Society report is increasing day by day.
Information about the attack on journalists from Human Rights Support System, HRSS’s documented statistics, around 32 journalists were injured, nearly 14 threatened, 04 arrested 06 assaulted and one killed. Nearly 50 incidences between Januarys to March, 2018 were watched.
Over the past five years in Bangladesh under section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT Act) scores of people have been arrested for criticizing the government, political leaders, and others on Facebook, blogs including online newspapers, or other social media, Human Rights Watch said in a report published on 09 May, 2018.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the UDHR states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating and restoring ‘respects of the rights or reputation of others’ and stating the protection of national security, public security, public health and morals.
As part of a process known as the Universal Periodic Review, Bangladesh went to undergo inspection of its human rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council on May 14, 2018,
The government was then expected to take this opportunity to commit to ending its restriction on criticism, instead preserving public right to free expression. This should include taking strong action against militant groups who seek to suppress free speech by engaging in violent attacks on those holding different religious views, Human Rights Watch said.
“Bangladesh authorities should accept that criticism, however unpleasant and hurtful, is part of public life and can serve to correct mistakes and provide redress,” said Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division “The government should work with domestic and international experts to draft a new law that fully upholds the principles of free speech and internet freedom.” He added.
Speech is not mere speech while people receive, conceive and inform others. An individual essentially voices what and how he views. He needs freedom what he must have – his human rights.