Abuse of the law stifles press freedom

Say speakers; Noab honors 11 newspapers

The Newspaper Owners Association of Bangladesh (Noab) yesterday welcomed 11 Bengali and English dailies for continuing to publish their newspapers for at least 25 years. The newspapers are The Daily Sangbad, The Daily Ittefaq, The Daily Azadi, The Daily Purbanchal, The Daily Karatoa, The Daily Purbakone, The Daily Inqilab, The Daily Bhorer Kagoj, The Daily Janakantha, The Daily Star and The Daily Financial Express. Among others, Jatiya Sangsad Chairwoman Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Information Minister Hasan Mahmud were present at the event. Picture: star

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The Newspaper Owners Association of Bangladesh (Noab) yesterday welcomed 11 Bengali and English dailies for continuing to publish their newspapers for at least 25 years. The newspapers are The Daily Sangbad, The Daily Ittefaq, The Daily Azadi, The Daily Purbanchal, The Daily Karatoa, The Daily Purbakone, The Daily Inqilab, The Daily Bhorer Kagoj, The Daily Janakantha, The Daily Star and The Daily Financial Express. Among others, Jatiya Sangsad Chairwoman Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Information Minister Hasan Mahmud were present at the event. Picture: star

The country’s newspapers have made a significant contribution to the liberation war struggle, building a nation as well as establishing democracy, speakers said yesterday.

Speakers also said that there should be no barriers to practicing independent journalism.

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They were speaking on a program honoring 11 Bengali and English dailies for their presence in the stands for at least 25 years. The Newspaper Owners Association of Bangladesh (Noab) organized the event at the Dhaka Club.

On the program, Noab hosted The Daily Sangbad, The Daily Ittefaq, The Daily Azadi, The Daily Purbanchal, The Daily Karatoa, The Daily Purbakone, The Daily Inqilab, The Daily Bhorer Kagoj, The Daily Janakantha, The Daily Star and The Quotidien Financial Express.

Speaking as the main guest, Jatiya Sangsad Chairwoman Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said newspapers have played an important role in the expansion and practice of freedom of expression. The press is the fourth pillar of democracy and its watchdog, she said.

“However, we can see how much fake news, misinformation and propaganda are flooding social media sites. In this context, ethical and responsible journalism is essential and can bring about positive changes to society,” he said. she declared.

Information Minister Hasan Mahmud said newspapers had played an important role in the liberation war struggle. He also played an important role in consolidating the country’s democracy.

“Although print media faces various challenges, I will keep its importance above all other media,” the minister said.

The minister said the media should focus on the development of the country and positive changes. “No government can be 100% perfect. You shouldn’t just focus on mistakes and hide successes.”

He said that many countries have enacted laws to keep their people safe in the digital sphere. “The government is vigilant that no one, including journalists, faces any form of harassment due to misuse of the Digital Security Act,” he said.

The Minister said that the Mass Media Employees (Services and Conditions) Bill 2022 has been prepared at the request of media workers. Newspaper journalists have a wages board, but there were no such provisions for electronic and online media workers.

“We have had discussions with stakeholders. We will also hold discussions to finalize, keeping in mind the interests of media professionals,” he said.

The Minister made these comments about an hour later, President Noab AK Azad, at the start of the broadcast, asked him to make an amendment to the Digital Security Law, as the Minister of Justice said that there had been a “misuse” of the law and he also hinted at amending it.

AK Azad said: “The country’s newspapers have been publishing information for the benefit of people for 50 years. But recently, some laws create barriers to self-employment, such as the Digital Security Act.

He also urged the government to hold discussions with all stakeholders ahead of the passage of the Mass Media Employees (Services and Conditions) Bill 2022.

Daily Sangbad editor Altamash Kabir said no one should face an obstacle when publishing accurate and credible information. The government should ensure that there is no abuse of rights.

Daily Ittefaq editor Tasmima Hossain said the government should look at newspaper facilities and problems so that newspapers do not face the tax burden and pressure from the wages commission. In addition, the government should release dues for its newspaper advertisements.

Daily Star editor and publisher Mahfuz Anam said he wanted more cordial relations with the government. “We journalists carry out our duties with professionalism, aiming to contribute to the development of the country,” he said.

“We also celebrate success. But we also focus on failures, shortcomings… Many think that we only describe negative things. I humbly want to say that we pay attention to things that remain unclear; things to which no one pays attention. Through independent journalism, we pass this information on to the government so that their work becomes more efficient and better,” he said.

He said the media works cordially and enthusiastically to participate in the development of the country. “But many laws are being enacted and implemented that challenge independent journalism,” he added.

Among others, MA Malek from Daily Azadi, Mozammal Huq from Daily Karatoa, Ramizuddin Chowdhury from Daily Purbakone, AMM Bahauddin from Daily Inqilab, Tariq Sujat from Daily Bhorer Kagoj and Shamsul Huq Zahid from Daily Fianancial Express spoke on the program.

Noab member Dewan Hanif Mahmud moderated the program and his ASM Vice President Shahidullah Khan Badal delivered a vote of thanks.

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