Bangladesh arrests journalist recognized for unearthing graft

2021-05-18 16:55:45

Rozina Islam
Police escort investigative journalist Rozina Islam (C) to a courtroom in Dhaka on Might 18, 2021.
Picture Credit score: AFP

Dhaka: Police in Bangladesh’s capital have arrested a journalist recognized for her sturdy reporting towards official corruption within the South Asian nation the place journalists are sometimes threatened with dire penalties for skilled work.

Rozina Islam, a senior reporter with the nation’s main Bengali-language Prothom Alo day by day newspaper, was confined for greater than 5 hours until late Monday in a room of a private assistant of the secretary of the Ministry of Well being, mentioned her youthful sister Sabina Parvin.

A secretary is the highest bureaucrat of a ministry, and the room was contained in the Bangladesh Secretariat, the downtown Dhaka premises the place nearly all authorities ministries are situated.

She was then handed over to police and faces fees underneath the Penal Code and Official Secrets and techniques Act for the theft and photographing of delicate state paperwork, mentioned Harun-or-Rashid, an extra deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

On Tuesday morning, she was produced earlier than a courtroom in Dhaka the place police sought that she be remanded to their custody for 5 days to be interrogated.

In line with the case paperwork seen by The Related Press, Islam is alleged to have used her cell phone with out permission to {photograph} paperwork associated to Bangladesh’s negotiations for purchasing and accumulating coronavirus vaccines whereas she waited inside a room of a bureaucrat concerned with the method.

The costs she faces carry as much as 14 years in jail and the demise penalty if she is convicted, the New York-based Committee to Shield Journalists mentioned in a press release.

Maidul Islam Prodhan, a spokesman for the well being ministry, mentioned Islam took images of “necessary” paperwork.

“She was additionally taking away some paperwork. A further secretary and a policeman challenged her on the time. Later, the policewomen have been referred to as in,” he mentioned.

Islam’s colleagues on the Prothom Alo mentioned she was on the ministry for skilled causes, whereas many questioned the unlawful confinement of a journalist contained in the room of a bureaucrat for greater than 5 hours.

Islam’s household mentioned she was bodily and mentally harassed in the course of the confinement. Video and pictures that went viral on social media exhibiting a bodily confrontation towards Islam couldn’t be verified.

Islam is thought for her reporting on corruption involving the Ministry of Well being and others. A number of of her current tales drew consideration to the thousands and thousands of {dollars} spent procuring emergency well being tools in coping with coronavirus pandemic.

Journalists teams in Bangladesh and the CPJ demanded her launch.

“We’re deeply alarmed that Bangladesh officers detained a journalist and filed a grievance underneath a draconian colonial-era legislation that carries ridiculously harsh penalties,” mentioned Aliya Iftikhar, CPJ’s senior Asia researcher.

“Bangladesh police and authorities ought to acknowledge that Rozina Islam is a journalist whose work is a public service and may instantly drop the case towards her and permit her to go free.”

Human Rights Watch in a press release earlier this month mentioned Bangladeshi journalists are risking arbitrary arrests, torture and harassment whereas a controversial Digital Safety Act was getting used towards many journalists.

It mentioned at the least 247 journalists have been reportedly subjected to assaults, harassment, and intimidation by state officers and others affiliated with the federal government in 2020. Greater than 900 instances have been filed underneath the Digital Safety Act with almost 1,000 individuals charged and 353 detained -many of them journalists, it mentioned.

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