No curbs on media despite emergency: Bangladesh
Under emergency, authorities can exercise control over the media, including censoring reports that may affect country's interests.Updated: Feb 08, 2007, 15:18 IST
Bangladesh's army-backed interim government said on Thursday it had instructed officials to respect the freedom of the press, despite a state of emergency imposed last month after weeks of political violence.
Under the emergency provisions, authorities can exercise tight control over the media, including censoring reports considered harmful to the country's interests.
But a senior Information Ministry official said the administration had told officials across the country that no curbs should be put on the press until further orders.
"The instructions to uphold freedom of press were dispatched to all deputy commissioners and police superintendents across the country," he said.
Although many have welcomed the emergency which banned all political and trade union activities, there has been some disquiet among the media and some political parties.
A delegation of newspaper editors met the information adviser to the government, Mainul Husein, urging him to allow the media to function without fear.
"We have no intention to curb freedom of press," Husein told reporters.
The emergency was imposed on Jan. 11 and an election planned for January 22 was postponed after 45 people were killed and hundreds injured in countrywide violence.
The interim authority has vowed to hold a free and fair election, but no dates have yet been announced.
It has launched a major crackdown on corruption, arresting nearly 60 politicians, including nine former ministers, in a drive to clean up the politics of the impoverished nation ahead of elections.
The politicians belong to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by immediate past prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia as well as main rival Awami League, led by another former prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Hasina hailed the drive, saying politicians who had amassed illegal wealth must be brought to justice.
"Everyone involved in crime, corruption and political intimidation should be punished after proper investigations," she said.
The detained politicians will face charges of corruption, involvement in anti-state and anti-people activities, and misuse of power to amass wealth, police have said.
But the BNP has expressed concern at the "indiscriminate" arrest of partymen and demanded their immediate release.