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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 68
May 17 , 2008

This week's issue:
Human Rights Analysis
Law opinion
Rights corner
Fact File
Law Interview
Reviewing the views
Law Event
Rights Monitor
Law Lexicon
Law Week

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Reviewing the views

Role of media in giving meaning to Freedom of Expression

Delara Hossain

The propagation of technology may ensure greater coverage but in no way guarantees objective or balanced reporting. Access to decision-making process and persons responsible for the same is getting more and more difficult for journalists. And more often than not these journalists pay a heavy price to get to the source of information. The media tells the real story to the entire world; the story becomes part of the history. To make the news more worthy they have to stick to professional ethics and accountable to their conscience. It is a reward for them when somebody shares some information with the entire world despite risk factors involved.

Media both print and electronic, has the power to shape public opinion because news is about people and events relate to people. Therefore, they have the power to speak against injustice. They draw attention of people whenever there is a conflict or violence. Without media it is totally impossible to find out the human stories related to violence. Reporting about conflict may help the victims of injustice overcome their ordeal. Media reminds us of the victims of forgotten conflicts, untold violence. They humanize the figures and numbers that can touch human minds and make them aware of the innocent people who suffer in such conflicts.

Many countries have created obstructions to restrict the flow of media products, notably Pakistan, to some extent India, and some times in our country too. South Asian governments should facilitate the free movement of media persons and media products across borders. The caretaker government has committed to do so on several occasions but yet little has been done in terms of implementation. By the help of media, ordinary people are now conscious enough to ask government about their official dealings. Besides media, modern technology helps news to transcend frontiers. Media can play the role of catalyst in fuelling change, reducing antagonism and generating opinion at the people's level. Albeit, some times activities of the media both print and electronic lead to violence due to false and misleading reporting.

It has always been strongly believed that all conflicts arise from the mindset. In changing that mindset media plays a tremendous role. Usually individual voice cannot reach long distance. People, by and large, are good; they do not allow wrong things to happen. Media provides them with information and mobilizes them to cure injustice. Media emphasizes on ensuring that no injustice anywhere goes unnoticed.

Let us take the example of our own country. In our liberation period media played a stupendous role to motivate and to influence our people from every walk of life. Freedom fighters entirely depended on the media during that time. Nowadays, reporting of the electronic and print medias is providing us with news even from war zones and the most precarious situations of political unrest. So, security of the journalists is more essential than ever so that they can keep us updated. Restriction on access to news can only be imposed for the sake of nation's security, in the strictest sense of the term.

We should realise that until and unless media is liberated from every unreasonable restriction, the right to freedom of expression would remain a hollow rhetoric. Since our constitution has recognized this right in Article 39, it is an obligation of the Government to facilitate the exercise of this right without interference.

The writer is student, School of Law, BRAC University.


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