Govt urged to ensure freedom of media
Sunday, 03 February 2008

Staff Correspondent

Odhikar, a non-governmental human rights body, has expressed deep concern over the government's fresh attempts to curb media freedom and curtail rights of the citizens with imposing Emergency Powers Rules.

The organisation in a release on Friday also urged the government to ensure freedom of expression, stop giving impunity to custodial deaths and torture and release the detained workers and peasants.

Citing an intelligence agency's circulation to restrict live talk shows in private television channels on January 24, it said newspapers were also receiving 'advisories' over phone from intelligence agencies about 'what to publish and what not to'.

Journalists especially those working outside Dhaka alleged that they were threatened by law enforcers for writing anything against the government, said the release, singed by ASM Nasiruddin Elan, acting director of Odhikar.

It appreciated the home ministry's warning against custodial deaths but said 184 people were killed allegedly by law enforcers while 69 people died in custody in 2007.

'There are allegations of compelling the arrested to testify against themselves by the lawmen reportedly through torture which sometimes leads to the death of the persons.'

The organisation urged the government to publish a detailed list of the workers and peasants, arrested under the Emergency Powers Rules 2007, to release them and withdraw cases against them.

Six people died in jail custody reportedly due to illness while four journalists were injured and one was arrested in January this year, the release said decrying continued incidents of rape, acid throwing, and killing of innocent Bangladeshi citizens by Border Security Force of India.

It also called for stopping extra-judicial killings and carrying out judicial inquiry into such killings.

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