7 foreign envoys in Bangladesh call for freedom of expression

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 17:37, May 07,2020 | Updated: 20:09, May 07,2020


Seven foreign ambassadors in Bangladesh on Thursday stressed the need for upholding independence of the press and freedom of expression for disseminating facts-based information during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Access to reliable and fact-based information provided by a free and independent media is vital to protecting public health everywhere,’ US ambassador Earl Miller said in a tweet Thursday morning.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, he said, ‘it is essential that freedom of expression is upheld and that the voices of journalists are not restrained’. 

The seven ambassadors made similar statements in separate tweets in the context of the arrest of several people by Bangladesh law-enforcement agencies and filing cases against them under the Digital Security Act, an ambassador of a European country said.

It is even more important that freedom of expression is upheld and the media can do its job, British High Commissioner Robert Dickson said in his tweet. 

‘In times of crises press freedom is more important than ever,’ Head of European Union delegation Rensje Teerink said, adding, ‘People need to have access to reliable and fact-based information.’

While fake news can become a serious issue journalists should be allowed to carry out their work unmuzzled in a free and independent way, she added.

Swedish ambassador Charlotta Schlyter, Norwegian ambassador Sidsel Bleken and Danish ambassador Winnie Estrup Petersen said that facts and press freedom are most required in times of crises.

It is essential that freedom of expression is safeguarded and that the voices of journalists are not restrained amid the COVID-19 crisis, they said.

‘Facts are life-savers,’ Dutch ambassador Harry Verweij added in his tweet.

Law-enforcement agencies detained at least four people and elite force Rapid Action Battalion filed a case against 11 people, including a writer, a cartoonist, activists and journalists, on allegations of spreading rumours and disinformation on the social media.

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