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Government fails to respect the role of journalists, says IPI mission

Bangladeshi authorities lack the political will to bring to justice killers of journalists says the International Press Institute (IPI) after a press freedom mission on 1 to 6 December in Bangladesh. Many of the 16 journalists killed since 1998 were covering corruption, says IPI.

The mission urged the ruling Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to resist politicising the media. The government also has an obligation to protect journalists so that they can do their jobs without fear.

In October 2009, journalist F.M. Masum was abducted from his home by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite military force, reports IPI. Masum was held incommunicado and tortured, before being released. In April 2007, another journalist was allegedly tortured by RAB forces.

In other areas, IPI says there has been recent progress in media reform - the state of emergency was lifted in 2008, a right to information act was enacted and a three-member Information Commission was established. But the government needs to go further with greater transparency.

IPI adds that a Broadcasting Act should be enacted to permit non-profit radio and television stations to be established in rural areas in order to improve the flow of information, to better inform all citizens.

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