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IPI preliminary mission report demonstrates need for dialogue with politicians and among the media, highlights issues of greatest concern

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an IPI press release:

IPI Preliminary Mission Report Demonstrates the Need for Dialogue with Politicians and Amongst the Media

Vienna, 17 December 2008

IPI today issued its preliminary report on the press freedom mission conducted in Bangladesh from 27 November to 2 December, in advance of national elections, currently slated for December 29. The report highlights the issues of greatest concern, and will be followed by an in-depth report in 2009.

"The Bangladeshi media has enjoyed increased freedom during the past two years under the interim administration, but that freedom remains fragile," commented Director David Dadge. "Many fear that old antagonisms between government and the media will quickly return after one of the main parties takes power. It is clear that much dialogue will be needed if this outcome is to be avoided."

Discussions with both media representatives and political leaders showed that Bangladesh's media faces pressure from politicians unwilling to accept media criticism, an army with a contested press freedom record, and an insufficiently independent judiciary. Many fear that the country's reputation for impunity gives a green light to violence against journalists. In the meantime, the media itself is largely politically polarized and its credibility is on the line.

IPI's preliminary report summarizes the main discussion points and outlines measures aiming to address the problems raised. To read the report, please visit IPI's website, at http://www.freemedia.at .

The IPI mission met with journalists, civil society, army intelligence, the Attorney General, the Election Commission, the Chief Advisor to the Interim Government, and political leaders to discuss press freedom. The members of the mission were David Dadge, IPI Director, Owais Aslam Ali, Secretary General, Pakistan Press Foundation, and Padma Singh Karki, Chairman, IPI Nepal National Committee.

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