Sunday, 14 August, 2022

US envoy expects journalists’ safety during polls

US envoy expects journalists’ safety during polls

US ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas today expressed his hope that journalists would be protected from harassment and violence during the upcoming polls in Bangladesh.

“A free press is a key ingredient in a legitimate, free democracy,” he told a discussion organised by the US embassy here on press freedom coinciding with the World Press Freedom Day 2022 at EMK Center centre in the capital.

Haas added: “we all have an obligation to protect the free press and to allow journalists to seek and report the truth without fear, harassment, or censorship“.

He said the United States maintained a universal and identical policy about elections anywhere in the world that seeks people to choose their own government through free and fair elections conducted in accordance with international standards.

Former President of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, also a US Jefferson Media Fellow presented the keynote paper at the discussion.

Haas said journalism is regarded as a noble profession but increasingly, around the world, it was becoming a difficult and dangerous one.

"Of course, that does not mean the United States is perfect when it comes to having a free press" as the most recent Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index reported that the United States ranked 42nd out of 180 countries.

"Frankly, the United States needs to do better."

The envoy said Bangladesh also scored low in the index largely because of the Digital Security Act.

The United States has made their concerns about the DSA clear, both in their annual Human Right Report and in meetings with government officials.

Japanese ambassador ITO Naoki, Canadian High Commissioner Lilly Nicholls, Deputy British High Commissioner Javed Patel and The Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman also spoke on the occasion.

A moment of silence was observed in honor of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was tragically killed in the West Bank.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991.

Every year, May 3rd is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.