Editors' Council condemns sentencing journalist by mobile court

Editors' Council

The Editors’ Council has condemned the sentencing of a journalist to six months in prison at a mobile court in Sherpur’s Nakla area.

Council president Mahfuz Anam and general secretary Hanif Mahmud expressed deep concerns over the growing trend of such actions against the newspersons and ruining the environment of free journalism in a statement on Monday.

The statement reads Desh Rupantor correspondent in Nakla Shafiuzzaman Rana sought information regarding the computers and laptops purchased under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) from the office upazila nirbahi officer (UNO).

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Later on 5 March, the UNO, instead of providing the information, set up a mobile court and sentenced him to six months in prison as he pressed on for information. They also delayed his bail by providing the required documents late.

"The usual behaviour of government officials to flaunt their power has been manifested through sending a journalist to jail by setting up a mobile court. The procedure of getting bail is being deliberately prolonged, though it's the minimum legal right in any crime," reads the statement.

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The mobile courts have the arbitrary power to punish an accused without giving the accused adequate opportunity to defend him or her. The executive magistrates also have the power to sentence somebody to prison terms just through a one-sided questioning. As a result, after being arrested under this law, a person inevitably lands in jail, add the statement.

"The use of mobile court law against media workers must be stopped for the sake of free speech and free media. We demand an immediate end to the use of this law on media and journalists," reads the statement.

At the same time, the council also demanded exemplary punishment for those who are utilising this law in their own interest or for vengeance.

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