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Right to Communication
In this campaign, VOICE is fighting against the global corporatization of media and the concurrent process of capital and power accumulation. The healthy field of dozens of media companies from years ago has now dwindled to a handful of influential media giants interested only in business and profit. In working for the right to communication, VOICE is critically analyzing these issues and giving a voice in the media to those who have none.
VOICE is actively pushing for government approval of community radio legislation, which currently does not exist in Bangladesh. Community radio is radio for the people and by the people, allowing them to talk about the issues that matter to their community, and is especially important where no other forms of media are available. As a voting member of AMARC, we are also trying to represent these issues at the global community level.
VOICE is also involved in the fight for freedom of expression in the press, as well as the campaign on Communication Rights in the Information Society, helping to formulate just policies on communication rights. VOICE translated the Internet Rights Charter into Bengali, in view of popularizing these issues.
Call to End Impunity
VOICE, Media Watch and International Press Institute (IPI) are jointly organizing a human chain in front of National Press Club in Dhaka calling to end Impunity and demanding to stop violations against journalists and to attain justice within the judicial system. Human chain will be held on 23rd November 2013 during the observance of International Day to End Impunity. Journalists, writers, human rights defenders and members of the civil society will attend the human chain.
[Dhaka, 22 September 2013] Speakers told that the ICT Act (amendment) 2013 sharply conflicts with Bangladesh Constitution’s Article 39 and 43 which guarantee freedom of expression and right to privacy respectively. Terming it as a ‘black law’, speakers urged the government not to enact as a law. A press conference titled ‘ICT Act (Amendment) 2013: Challenges for Right to Privacy and Freedom of Expression’ was held by VOICE in the city’s national press club today while it was jointly collaborated with Bangladesh Manobadhikar Shangbadik forum, Campaign on Citizen’s Right to Information, Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum, Somewherein.net Blog, Online Knowledge Society, Shushashoner Jonyo Procharabhijan (SUPRO) and School of Communication and Cultural Metaphysics.
Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, CEO, Boishaki Television, Khairuzzaman Kamal, Executive Director, Bangladesh Manobadhikar Shangbadik Forum, Zakir Hossain, Executive Director of Nagorik Uddog and Convener of Campaign on Citizen Right to Information, Syeda Gulshan Ferdous Jana, Acting Managing Director, Somewherein.net Blog and, Farjana Akhter, Programme Coordinator, Voice spoke at the press briefing while Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of Voice moderated the session.
Statement: Proposed Amendments to the Information and Communication Technology Act Violates Privacy and Human Rights
ALREADY a repressive law, the existing ICT Act-2006 is being further blackened by the government through approving the proposed draft of its amendment styled ICT (Amendment) Ordinance-2013. Worse still, the proposed draft Act has made non-cognisable offences in the existing law cognisable, abolished the provision of bail and increased the extent of punishment to 14 years in prison.
On the flipside, it also provides the police with unrestricted power to arrest any person suspected of breaking the law without issuing warrant. It will constrict freedom of thought and thereby democracy.
In line with our consistent position against vesting arbitrary power in the law-enforcers’ hand, we express our strong reservation against the proposed amendment to the ICT Act.
A public dialogue on ‘Challenges of Privacy and Security in Bangladesh: Perspective from Human Rights Defenders’ was held on Sunday, 30 June 2013 at the CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka. The dialogue was organized by VOICE in association with Law Life Culture, Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum; Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum, Campaign on Citizen Right to Information; Equity and Justice Working Group; Online Knowledge Society, Sushashoner Jonno Procharavijan (SUPRO); School of Communications and Cultural Metaphysics. Eminent leaders and journalists including Khushi Kabir, Women Leader, and Coordinator of Nijera Kori; Mahmdur Rahman Manna, Politician, Saiful Haque, general secretary of The Revolutionary Workers Party, Dr. Shahriar Rahman of Asia Pacific University spoke in the panel among others.
The panelists discussed the issues of privacy, national security and along with the existing institutional practices on legal and policy regulations to rise with the human rights framework. They also discussed the recent criminalization of right to freedom of expression and privacy and raised on how to build a broader constituency creating capacity and strengthening networking through raising voices to uphold privacy rights being critical on communication surveillance in Bangladesh.
Training workshop on `Privacy, Human Rights and Communication Surveillance: National Laws, Practices and Safeguards’
A day long training workshop on `Privacy, Human Rights and Communication Surveillance: National Laws, Practices and Safeguards’ has been held on 27 April 2013 at the CBCB (Catholic Bishops Conference of Bangladesh), Dhaka.
The workshop discussed the issues of privacy and communication surveillance along with the existing practices on legal and policy regulations to raise critical awareness and develop perspective with the human rights framework. It discussed how to build a broader constituency creating capacity and strengthening networking through raising voices to uphold privacy rights being critical on communication surveillance in Bangladesh.
A report on freedom of expression online and right to internet access in Bangladesh which has been published by VOICE in January 2013.
This report analyzes the situation in Bangladesh based on the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. It investigates the country situation on what extent online freedom of expression in Bangladesh confirms the standards of national and international laws and policies.
This report draws the overview of the internet in Bangladesh describing the access and infrastructure, service quality and internet exchange gateways. It also describes the overview of United Nations Special Rapporteur Frank’s La Rue’s report and highlights the assessment of the recommendations while the report assesses the prevailing situation. This report also briefly discuss the political and human rights situation, policy framework of the internet in Bangladesh including the Telecommunication Policy of 1998, Telecommunication Act-2001, and the Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT).
Journalists, academics, rights activists and civil society representatives on Tuesday urged the government not to curb citizens’ freedom of expression by controlling internet use.
They made the call at a dialogue on ‘Challenges and opportunities of freedom of expression online in Bangladesh’ and the launch of a report ‘Bangladesh: an assessment of freedom expression online’ at a local hotel in the capital.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression programme launched the report.
The speakers observed that there was no need to formulate an online policy, saying that the Shahbagh movement itself was the result of blogging or online activities.
Referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the speakers at the programme emphasised the need to ensure right to freedom of expression online and pluralism in society.
The event was organised by VOICE, in association with Bangladesh Manabadhikar Sangbadik Forum, Campaign on Citizen Right to Information, Equity and Justice Working Group, Online Knowledge Society, Sushashaner Jonno Pracharavijan, School of Communications and Cultural Metaphysics.
THIRD SOUTH ASIAN MEETING ON THE INTERNET & FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
JANUARY 14-15, 2013
This is a statement by the participants in the Third South Asian Meeting on the Internet and Freedom of Expression that took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on January 14–15, 2013, following a violent attack on blogger Asif Mohiuddin.
Bangladeshi blogger Asif Mohiuddin was brutally attacked in a stabbing last evening. His condition is currently said to be critical. Violent attacks on mediapersons have led to at least four deaths in the past year. This trend is now extending to those writing online.
It is the duty of societies at large to ensure that principles we universally consider sacrosanct, such as the right to life and liberty and of freedom of expression are in fact ideas, and of the government to actively protect the rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Bangladesh and to ensure they are not just words on paper.