VOICE is a rights-based, activist organization working mainly on the issues of food sovereignty, aid effectiveness, economic justice, and the right to information and communication, both in Bangladesh and on a global scale. By building a broader constituency of alternative voices to the ‘mainstream development discourse’ through research and public education, VOICE is taking a stand against unjust and undemocratic practices.


No govt should impose censorship on net access Speakers say at roundtable

By farjana - Posted on 08 June 2009

Speakers at a roundtable on Thursday said no government should impose surveillance and censorship on internet access and block any websites considering people's right to know and free flow ofinformation.

Criticising all forms of surveillance and censorship on internet access, they urged the government to protect right to privacy and freedom of expression with an end to all sorts of surveillance and censorship on internet.

With a call for a democratic access to information and data protection, VOICE, an NGO, organised the roundtable on `Access to information: Internet surveillance and censorship versus protection of people's rights' at the National Press Club in the
city.

Taking part in the roundtable, Syed Margub Morshed, former chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission,said it would be a futile exercise if anybody wants to block any website to censor or hide any information.

“Surveillance and censorship is fundamentally unethicaland national security cannot be protected through imposing surveillance and censorship,” he added.

Criticising the government move on mobile re-registration, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE, in his keynote paper asked, “How can we be ensured that the information or data given to a prescribed form will not be leaked our or used for other purpose?”

A Roundtable on Access to Information : Internet surveillance and censorship vs People`s Rights Protection

By farjana - Posted on 31 May 2009

VOICE is going to organize a roundtable on ‘ Access to Information : Internet surveillance and censorship vs People`s Rights Protection.

Date: 4 June 2009
Time: 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Venue: VIP lounge, National Press Club, Dhaka

The objective is to discuss current issue- policies and implications of access to information focusing on internet surveillance and censorship in relation to human rights principles.

Experts, academicians, journalists, telecommunications specialists, engineers, economists, concerned professional bodies, civil society organizations, NGOs etc will attend the programme.

If you need any information please contact with Farjana Akter, Programme Coordinator, Cell: 01712990078

 

Experience about the internship

By farjana - Posted on 31 May 2009

By Farjana Akter

This is immensely great initiative by NGO Forum on ADB to bring new leadership under the light of ‘Incentives Internship Program on ADB issues’. I cannot define it in a single word or in a paragraph how it is. Though I must say it’s a gigantic learning scope for a young activist and practitioner. The learning program is only for 15 days but it has already given me different views to think about, look at things in a critical point of view in the recent development paradigm.

Well I am not going to say that I am now an expert on ADB advocacy, but everyday I am gaining very important things that are giving me spirit to work more strongly about ADB issues. Though I have experienced to work about international financial institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

Bangladeshi NGOs respond to the World Bank's disclosure policy review

By farjana - Posted on 23 May 2009

22 May 2009

A consortium of civil society representatives met to discuss access to information at the World Bank in Bangladesh on May 20th.
 
Article 19-Bangladesh, the Bank Information Center and VOICE, an IFI research and advocacy organization, convened a meeting of various civil society groups to solicit feedback on their collective experiences with the World Bank’s information disclosure practices in the context of World Bank country projects.  About 90 civil society representatives attended the May 20th meeting in Dhaka which included political activists, representatives from a variety of NGOs, trade unions, human rights and women groups as well as journalists and communications organizations.  Prominent academics and experts were in attendance, including Justice (retd) Mohammad Golam Rabbani who presided over the meeting.  Proposals and concerns with regard to the information disclosure policy as well as suggestions for an improved policy will be conveyed to the World Bank.

Civil society suggestions and observations

WB accused of hiding info on its projects

By farjana - Posted on 22 May 2009

The World Bank does not provide any information on its projects in Bangladesh, obstructing stakeholders’ access to information in areas such as project agreement, implementation and monitoring, said participants in a consultation meeting.
They demanded public disclosure of all information related to WB projects as well as its funding procedures.

The meeting, held at the Dhaka Reporter’s Unity on Wednesday, was organised by research and advocacy organisation Voice and the Bank Information Centre. Former Appellate Division Judge Golam Rabbani presided over the meeting.
In his keynote speech, the Voice executive director, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, said according to the WB’s Inspection Panel Annual Report, there were allegations of lack of transparency, even violations, of its disclosure policy, he added.
He cited violations of the disclosure policy in a significant number of cases.

BRAC University professor Dr Piash Karim said the World Bank was losing its legitimacy worldwide because of imposition of neo-liberal conditions on the states.
Accusing the World Bank of taking advantage of the global financial crisis, he said it was eager to expand its lending base. He demanded that the World Bank’s lending policy and the project agreements should be made public so that people could voice their opinions on the project documents.

VOICE organized a consultation on World Bank Disclosure Policy

By farjana - Posted on 20 May 2009

May 20, Dhaka [The participants of the consultation allegedly said that the Bank didn’t provide any information on the project they undertook in the country and categorically it impedes the access to information at all levels including project agreement, implementation and monitoring levels.  The consultation was held at the Dhaka Reporters Unity today jointly organized by VOICE, a research and advocacy organization and Bank Information Centre. The consultation was presided over by Justice (Retd)  Mohammad Golam Rabbani.

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of Voice read out the key note paper while he citing the example from the World Bank's Inspection Panel Annual Report, said that Bank suffers with the problem of access to information within several World Bank-financed projects. There are allegations of lack of transparency, and even violations of its own disclosure policy according to recently published Inspection Panel Report, he told. Ahmed Swapan also said that alleged violation of the Bank’s disclosure policy was raised in 22 of the 52 cases, which equates to 42 percent of all cases brought to the panel since its 1993 inception.

A consultation on World Bank`s Disclosure Policy

By farjana - Posted on 13 May 2009

VOICE is going to organize a Consultation meeting on ‘World Bank’s Information Disclosure Policy: People’s Voice and Propose Greater Transperency and Accountability’.

Date: 20 May 2009
Time: 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Venue: VIP lounge of Dhaka Reporters Unity, (8/4-A Topkhana Road, Segunbagicha)

The objectives of the consultation are to raise critical awareness among citizenry and also to prepare a set of recommendations for further improvement of the Disclosure policy to ensure greater transparency and accountability to its constituencies.
Noted that World Bank is going to revise its Disclosure policy and it has already posted an Approach Paper titled Toward Greater Transparency: Rethinking the World Bank’s Disclosure Policy in its external website.

Please contact us for more information! (email: ahmed.swapan@gmail.com, Mobile: 01711-881919)

Bank watchdog calls ADB response to financial crisis a sham

By farjana - Posted on 04 May 2009

Deep concerns about high risk offshore private equity portfolio

4 May 2009, Bali - The largest Asian NGO network monitoring the ADB today slammed the bank's response to the financial crisis, calling it "a dangerous plan to unleash massive infrastructure funding while reducing environmental and social oversight."

According to Red Constantino of the NGO Forum on the ADB, "the bank is proposing a blinkered, business-as-usual program that will not prevent developing countries from sliding back into poverty but instead is likely to cause environmental destruction and social dislocation."
 
The NGO Forum on the ADB also released a scathing report detailing the ADB's high-risk low-return foray into private equity funds and pointed to the potential large-scale misuse of the 200 percent capital increase the ADB recently secured.
"The ADB's handling of its private equity funds is scandalous and presents a material risk not only to the ADB but to project affected communities and the environment," said Stephanie Fried of Environmental Defense Fund.

ADB Slammed in International People`s Tribunal

By farjana - Posted on 03 May 2009

3 May Bali: During ADB`s 42nd Annual General meeting taking place in Bali, Indonesia from May 2-5, 2009, civil society and NGOs from around the world meet together and demonstrate against the project and policies of Asian Development Bank. As a part of programmes, a two days long Asia Pacific People`s Tribunal is being held in Udayana University, Bali while witnesses testify how ADB has violates the rights of the people of the region.

The international tribunal was organized by Indonesian civil society network INFID, Indies, Asia Pacific Research Network, IBON Foundation, Philippines associated with more than thirty organizations from the region including VOICE, Bangladesh.

The multilateral lender has been charged with gross violations of economic, social, and cultural rights of the Asia- Pacific region; civil and political rights; and peoples’ national sovereignty and right to self-determination.

Bank watchdog raises alarm on ADB’s general capital increase

By farjana - Posted on 03 May 2009

NGOs warn that increased funds will equal increased harm

2 May 2009, BALI – The NGO Forum on the Asian Development Bank today challenged the multilateral bank’s move for a general capital increase (GCI), calling it irresponsible and dangerous.