Bangladesh Journalists Protest Order Limiting Courtroom Reporting

Pulack Ghatack
190517-BD-press-620.jpg Bangladeshi police stand guard outside the Supreme Court building during a daylong strike in Dhaka, June 17, 2015.

Bangladeshi journalists asked the nation’s top court on Friday to withdraw its order prohibiting them from reporting details of trials that are in progress.

The Supreme Court registrar’s office issued the order, also known as a circular, after online and television news reports divulged details of a recent High Court ruling, sources said.

Supreme Court spokesman Mohammad Saifur Rahman said Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain issued the order to block reports that could damage the court’s image.

“If any news reports create questions (or) confusion about the dignity of the court … the image of the court would be damaged,” Rahman told BenarNews.

“The court prohibited news reports or scrolls, which could lose people’s confidence in the judicial system,” he said, adding, “There are also rules in journalism.”

On Thursday, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam asked the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division to take action against the High Court Division for what he called an “abnormal order.”

The Supreme Court, the nation’s highest tribunal, consists of those two divisions.

Alam suggested that the Appellate Division led by the chief justice forward the issue to President Abdul Hamid, who could take action against the High Court judges for what he described as a preposterous decision in a civil case, according to media reports.

The Bangladesh Law Reporters Forum (LRF), in a letter sent to Chief Justice Syed Mahmud, criticized the order and demanded that it be withdrawn, saying it contradicts his earlier statement in support of independent journalism.

The Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) on Friday joined the call to pull the circular.

“It will hamper investigative reporting,” BFUJ said in a statement.

“The government has passed the Right to Information Act,” it said. “This directive of the court is unacceptable. The court must withdraw it.”


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