May 5, 2022
The Reporters Sans Frontieres’ (RSF) report on Bangladesh’s declining position on the World Press Freedom Index is malicious, offensive and unacceptable, said Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Thursday.
The minister made this remark while exchanging Eid greetings with reporters at his residence in Chittagong.
“The Paris-based RSF has always been hostile towards Bangladesh,” he said, adding that RSF also reports untruths and fabrications about the media in Bangladesh.
“They published a report last year with very offensive remarks about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” he said.
In the wake of this, as the larger journalist unions of Bangladesh protested, similarly, some Bangladeshi expatriates in Paris had issued legal notices against the RSF through their French lawyers, said the minister.
The legal notice states that they cannot make such comments about the head of state or government of any country, as stated in French law, which means they have done so violating the French law, Hasan added.
He also said RSF collects data from the sources who constantly carry out propaganda against Bangladesh abroad and prepares reports which are of no value.
Last year, various journalists’ organizations, including the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), protested against the report and made statements, he added.
“When the same organization talks about the media in Bangladesh again, it is natural to assume that they are continuously publishing reports against Bangladesh with malicious intent,” he said.
Mentioning that RSF has also talked about the Digital Security Act, Hasan said that when there was no digital issue, there was no issue of providing digital security.
“When it comes to digital different countries, including Bangladesh, have enacted laws to provide digital security to the masses.”
This law has been and is being formed in almost all the countries of the world. Digital security laws have been enacted in Singapore, India, Pakistan, USA, Australia and also in Bangladesh, he said.
“This law is meant to provide digital security to all people. Many journalists have taken advantage of the law to sue for defamation,” said the minister.
“The law should not be abused against anyone, be it a journalist or common people,” he said.
Besides, the European Union is working on a framework law, under which steps will be taken in different countries, law will be enacted,” he said.
France has similar laws, he added. “So, since the RSF is already hostile towards Bangladesh, they have taken Bangladesh down a few steps. We reject it outright.”
World Press Freedom Index 2022
Bangladesh ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2022 showing that the country slipped ten notches compared to the 2021 Index.
Reporters Without Borders, also known as Reporters sans frontières (RSF), released the index on Tuesday marking the World Press Freedom Day. Bangladesh’s position was 152nd last year.
The Internet plays a growing role in the circulation of news and information, said the report.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s neighbour India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has fallen down to 150th position from last year’s 142nd rank out of 180 countries, according to the report by the global media watchdog.
The ranking of India’s neighbours, except that of Nepal, have also slid down, with the index placing Pakistan at 157th position, Sri Lanka 146th, Bangladesh 162nd and Maynmar at 176th position.
According to the RSF 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Nepal has climbed up by 30 points in the global ranking at 76th position.
Last year, the Himalayan nation had been placed at 106th position, Pakistan at 145th, Sri Lanka 127th, Bangladesh 152nd and Myanmar at 140th position in the index.
This year, Norway (1st) Denmark (2nd), Sweden (3rd) Estonia (4th) and Finland (5th) grabbed the top positions, while North Korea remained at the bottom of the list of the 180 countries and territories ranked by the Reporters Without Borders.