Threats, attacks on journalists must stop

Published On: April 22, 2024 07:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Government has to provide better protection to media workers

Yet another journalist has become a victim of violence and intimidation, reinforcing the fact that the authorities are still failing to ensure a safe environment for them to perform their duties. On Friday night, unidentified miscreants attacked a crime reporter of Bangla daily Jugantor with some sort of powdery substance that stung, leading to his hospitalisation. Attacks on journalists are, unfortunately, nothing new; it's a textbook scare tactic. But how is it that after countless such incidents over the years, the government is still failing to ensure the safety of media workers?

Before spraying him with the powder, the two masked miscreants mentioned the name of a local public representative and threatened to kill the journalist and his family. This trend of attackers claiming to be doing the dirty work for influentials is also quite common. Earlier this month, a journalist filed a case against an Awami League leader after the latter's men allegedly attacked him in Kurigram. Last month, supporters of a local ward councillor allegedly assaulted a journalist from Jamalpur. These incidents, which aim to deter journalists from doing their job, prove that threatening and injuring journalists have little repercussions.

Bringing the point further home is a report of Manabadhikar Shongskriti Foundation (MSF), which said that at least 40 journalists were subjected to various forms of attacks, intimidation, threats, and harassment in 15 incidents in the last month. Of the 15 incidents, ruling party members were involved in four, UP chairmen in three, government officials in two, university authorities in one, land grabbers in one, and local influentials in four. This shows a worrying trend of individuals with power—including those entrusted to ensure people's welfare—attempting to suppress the work of the free press, and oftentimes getting away with it. There's a reason why Bangladesh is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2023, and if the government wants to truly ensure a safe environment for journalists, it must stop turning a blind eye to such incidents. The culture of impunity for attacking and intimidating journalists must end. And the perpetrators of such attacks must be brought to book.

Source: Daily Star (Bangladesh)

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