Forum for Freedom of Expression, Bangladesh (FExB), a network of media rights defenders in Bangladesh is shocked to know that the award-winning investigative journalist Rozina Islam has been refused bail on trumped-up charges under colonial-era Official Secrets Act, 1923.
FExB strongly protests that the Ministry of Health and Family filed false cases, illegal confinement, unauthorised body search, confiscate mobile phones and press card of Rozina Islam, a senior reporter of the largest circulated independent newspaper Prothom Alo who was shown arrested on the night of 17 May 2021.FExB demands the unconditional release of journalist Rozina Islam and drop false cases against her. It also demands that the Minister Mr Zahid Maleque of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Mr Lokman Hossain Miah, Secretary, Health Services Division of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Ms Kazi Zebunnessa Begum, Additional Secretary, Health Services Division should be held accountable for assault, illegal confinement and false cases against the journalist on May 17.
FExB also demands that the Government should repeal both the repressive Official Secrets Act, 1923 and Digital Security Act, 2018, which contradicts the Right to Information Act, 2009, curtails freedom of expression, transparency, and accountability of the government. It urged the government not to criminalise freedom of expression and also victimise `whistleblowers’ like Rozina Islam. The government must ensure that such an incident will not repeat.
Those Endorsed and signed by Media Rights Defenders: Dr. Syeda Aireen Jaman, Secretary-General, PEN International, Bangladesh; Faruq Faisel, South Asia Regional Director, Article 19; Khairuzzaman Kamal, Representative International Federation of Journalists (IFJ); Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, CEO, VOICE, Dhaka; Mainul Islam Khan, Representative, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ); Sayeed Ahmad, Representative, Front Line Defenders; Ahamed Ullah, Member, Bangladesh Manabadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF); GM Mourtaza, CEO, CCD Bangladesh; Saleem Samad, Correspondent, Reporter Without Borders (RSF).