General

Journalists must be able to work without threat: Canada

Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Benoit Prefontaine on Monday said journalists in the world must be able to carry out their work without the “threat of intimidation, reprisal, arrest or violence”.

The Canadian High Commissioner said freedom of the media and expression is essential to democratic societies and for protecting human rights.

He said people need an independent media to provide timely, accurate information that hold governments to account.

The envoy made the remarks at a virtual consultation on “Defending Media Freedom for Democracy and Citizen’s Rights in Bangladesh” organised by ARTICLE 19 in collaboration with the British and Canadian High Commissions on Monday.

Regrettably, he said, violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression continue to occur, including attacks or acts of intimidation against journalists.

“Threats to the safety of journalists and other media professionals remain one

of the key obstacles to the full implementation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression,” the envoy said.

The High Commissioner also noted that Canada is concerned about the trend toward increased restrictions on free expression

online, resulting from measures taken by some governments to censor or control digital technologies, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The same rights that exist and are protected offline must be protected online, he said.

The consultation brought together a broad group of experts, including media organisations, journalists including women and marginalized journalists, academics, law experts, bloggers, activists, human rights

defenders, youth representatives, international organizations, and members of the international community, including several Ambassadors and the UN’s Resident Coordinator, to discuss the challenges to media freedom and how to overcome them.

One of the key topics discussed was the issue of impunity for those attacking journalists.

A timely discussion since November 2nd is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, said the Canadian High Commission.

The second Global Conference for Media Freedom, which Canada and Botswana are co-hosting on November 16, is an opportunity for countries to further advance their commitment to a free and independent media.

Like the event held today, the conference will bring key stakeholders together to identify solutions, and address the unprecedented risks posed by Covid-19 and digital technology to media freedom.

The second conference will build on progress made since the inaugural conference and also feature the first Ministerial meeting of the Media Freedom Coalition.

Monday’s event provided an opportunity to take stock of the status of media freedom and safety of journalists in Bangladesh.

The Canadian High Commissioner said how impressed he was with the relevance of discussions and recommendations developed by

Bangladeshi civil society for enhancing the Global Conference.

Source: United News of Bangladesh