Bangladesh: media workers charged, arrested for COVID-19 reportingEvent
- Initial Date
- Jul 10, 2021
- Event Description
On July 10, police in the northeast district of Thakurgaon opened Digital Security Act investigations into the three journalists, according to news reports and a police report, which CPJ reviewed.
Authorities are investigating Tanu, the Thakurgaon district correspondent for the news websites Jago News and Daily Ittefaq and the privately owned broadcaster Independent Television; Shuvo, a correspondent for the news website NewsBangla24.com; and Litu, a correspondent for the news websites Jugantor and Bangladesh Pratidin and the privately owned broadcaster News 24, according to those sources.
On the night of July 10, police arrested Tanu when he went to the local Sadar police station to inquire about the investigation; they then transferred him to the Sadar Hospital yesterday morning for treatment for respiratory issues, and released him on bail later that day, those reports said. Police handcuffed Tanu to a hospital bed while he received treatment, according to those reports.
Shuvo told CPJ via messaging app that he and Litu have not been arrested as of today.
“Bangladesh authorities should drop their Digital Security Act investigations into journalists Tanvir Hasan Tanu, Rahim Shuvo, and Abdul Latif Litu immediately,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The Bangladesh government must repeal the act, cease harassing journalists, and allow them to do their jobs, which are a public service, not a crime.”
The investigations stem from a complaint filed by Nadirul Aziz Chapal, the superintendent of the Thakurgaon Sadar Hospital, who alleged that the journalists published reports about the hospital intended to defame and spread enmity and hatred, according to a copy of his complaint, which CPJ reviewed. CPJ called and texted Chapal for comment, but he did not reply.
The complaint referenced a July 5 article by Tanu in Jago News; a July 8 article by Shuvo in NewsBangla24.com; and a July 7 article in Jugantor, published anonymously, which Chapal alleges Litu authored. All three articles detailed allegations that Thakurgaon Sadar Hospital provided sub-standard food to COVID-19 patients.
Police are investigating the three journalists under sections of the Digital Security Act pertaining to the publication of offensive, false, or threatening information; propaganda; defamatory information; information that creates enmity, hatred, or hostility among different classes or communities; and abetment of an offense, according to the police report.
Each of those counts can carry maximum prison sentences ranging from three years to five years and maximum fines ranging from 300,000 taka ($3,540) to 500,000 taka ($5,900).
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Enactment of repressive legislation and policies
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Right to liberty and security
- Media Worker
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 10 July 2021, Tanvir Hasan Tanu, Rahim Shuvo, and Abdul Latif Litu, media workers, were charged by the police under repressive Digital Security Act, and Mr. Hasan Tanu arrested, for reporting hospital poor treatment of COVID-19 patients in Dhaka, Bangladesh.