ARTICLE 19 today launches its annual freedom of expression in Bangladesh report, focused on violations of the right to freedom of expression for journalists and online activists.
In 2016, ARTICLE 19 recorded a total of 320 attacks against journalists working in print, electronic, and online media, and online activists. These attempts to limit freedom of expression and the press included:
a) Attacks against physical integrity, including killing, attempted killing, serious bodily injury, minor assault, abduction and attempted abduction;
b) Intimidation and threats;
c) Harassment through unwarranted application of laws, including criminal defamation cases, vexatious cases under different laws, and use of Section 57 of the ICT Act;
d) Arrests or police remand;
e) Gender-based violations; and
f) Destruction of equipment and/or property.
With 125 violations, harassment through unwarranted application of laws, including criminal defamation cases, vexatious cases under different laws, and use of Section 57 of the ICT Act, constituted 39.1% of the total violations and more than double the attacks against physical integrity where 62 violations were noted. With 19.4% of the total violations, attacks against physical integrity constituted the second highest category of violations. The third highest category of violations used to silence journalists and online activists was the destruction of equipment and/or property and 58 violations of this type were recorded, equalling 18.1% of the total number of violations. Under intimidation and threats, 48 violations were noted, constituting 15% of all violations, while 23 arrests and/or police remand constituted 7.2% of all violations. Only four gender-based violations were noted, 1.3% of the total violations; however, these figures do not reflect the actual number of occurrences of this type of violation, as most cases are not reported for fear of repercussions.