Cases against Star Editor irks IFJ

DHAKA : The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said “the attempts to pursue ‘coordinated legal proceedings’ against The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam was a clear attempt to intimidate the media and muzzle press freedom” in Bangladesh, reports UNB.
“The IFJ is seriously concerned by the legal harassment of Mahfuz Anam as result of reporting in the public interest at a time of political crisis,” the IFJ said in a press statement on Tuesday.
The Brussels-based global voice of journalists said the high number of cases and the filing of these across the country indicate an ‘aggressive politically-motivated effort’ to harass a senior editor and a key newspaper in Bangladesh.
At least three dozens of cases, including six sedition pleas and a dozen defamation cases, were filed in the past weeks against him in 17 districts of Bangladesh by various individuals and political groups, the IFJ said in a press release on Tuesday.
The legal actions were launched after Anam admitted during a televised interview on February 3 to a lapse in editorial judgment in publishing reports based on information supplied by the country’s ‘task force intelligence cell’ during the caretaker government regime almost a decade ago without being able to independently verify them, it mentioned.
The military-backed interim government declared a state of emergency in 2007, detaining the top leaders of the two biggest political parties and initiating cases against them.
The IFJ said the use of sedition and defamation laws in this case is ‘extremely concerning.’ “Sedition laws are regarded as a relic of the past but are too often being revived as a means to silence political opposition and criticism in the region. This is a worrying development in an already extremely challenged media environment of Bangladesh.”