A policy which bars the media from publishing any news criticising members of law enforcement agencies might tarnish the image and dignity of the law enforcers, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) chairperson Sultana Kamal said yesterday while criticising the National Broadcast Policy-2014.
“Under the constitution, people have the right to know and the right to information. The constitution empowers people to express their ideas, thinking and ideology through the media, but unfortunately the broadcast policy will take away every right and stop persons from thinking in their own way. This is against the Right to Information Act (RTI Act),” she observed.
She, however, said: “We are not against the broadcast policy. We are discussing clauses that will affect the rights of individuals and organisations, and the RTI of the people.”
She made these observations at a press conference at a hotel to explain the TIB’s position on the National Broadcast Policy. TIB officials were present at the meet.
“When a police officer, an Army officer, or an activist of TIB does something wrong, we usually say that the police/Army and TIB did it, as they represent their organisations. All these wrongdoings come to light through the media. So, we cannot accept anything that can stop the media from presenting the issues to the people; we are against such clauses,” the human rights activist said.
“We will not allow anything which is against our muktijuddha (Liberation War), our Constitution and the fundamental rights of the people,” she clarified.
TIB presented a written paper at the press conference, where it claimed that the government has framed the broadcast policy to gag the media and speakers at TV talk-shows. The civil society organisation said the controversial policy empowers the information ministry to gag the electronic media till the government appoints the broadcasting commission.
TIB expressed apprehensions that the government’s inability to tolerate criticism could lead it to use the proposed broadcast commission to shut down any electronic media organisation and harass journalists.
“If the government really wants to form an independent commission, it should select people who never engage in politics and sit with groups concerned to make it media-friendly,” it said.
TIB observed that the government has made it a practice to issue broadcasting licences only to those who toe its line.