When journalists are silenced or deterred from doing their job, the public’s right to information is compromised
It is often rightfully said that a free and vibrant press is the cornerstone of any thriving democracy, serving as the eyes and ears of the public, holding those in power accountable, and providing a platform for diverse voices and opinions.
In this context, it is deeply disheartening to witness the rising trend of harassment and intimidation faced by journalists in our nation, with a new report by the non-governmental human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) outlining that as many as 217 journalists were subjected to torture, harassment, threats, and obstacles in the first nine months of the year.
When journalists are silenced or deterred from doing their job, the public’s right to information is compromised, hindering their ability to make informed decisions. Such harassment of journalists erodes the public’s overall trust in the nation. With the spread of misinformation and “fake news,” reliable journalism is more critical than ever. Attacking journalists undermines their ability to serve as watchdogs, leaving the public vulnerable.
Furthermore, this brings a climate of fear and intimidation within the journalism profession, and it is no wonder that pursuing a career in journalism is often discouraged. This ultimately deprives our nation of the voices and perspectives necessary and further discourages journalists from pursuing stories that expose corruption, human rights abuses, or other critical issues.
And of course, Internationally, the reputation of a nation is tarnished when its treatment of journalists is marred by harassment and violence. Such actions attract global scrutiny and condemnation, potentially harming diplomatic relations, trade agreements, and international partnerships.
It is imperative that we recognize the harmful repercussions of harassing journalists and take immediate steps to rectify this situation. The freedom and safety of journalists to report without fear or favour is the very least any nation, much less a democratic one, should ensure.
Source: Dhaka Tribune.