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The Al Jazeera’s website was blocked hours after it published an article on Wednesday detailing the investigation of alleged involvement of country’s security and defence figure in the disappearance of three men. 

The article followed an investigation done by Al Jazeera’s Investigation Unit which focused on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s security adviser and head of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Tarique Ahmed Siddique, who “has been accused of using military intelligence agents to abduct and interrogate people to settle a business dispute involving his wife”.

Together with Al Jazeera, a local news and discussion site ‘Joban’, which published the article in Bengali, was also blocked. 

This is not the first time the Bangladesh government blocked websites criticising the government and its representatives.

Skyline International emphasizes that such actions are against fundamental human rights, concretely freedom of expression, as stated in the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This article states as follows: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

The Bangladesh government should be held accountable for shockingly more frequent breach of freedom of expression and information, which are fundaments of healthy democracy and crucial for social and economic growth. 

Our organisation believes that media and its journalists are essential instrument for our right to information and free access to any information. We agree with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova who expressed that “journalism thrives when media is free and independent, when journalists are safe to report, when impunity is the exception”. 

The freedom of expression and freedom of opinion should not be censored just because it criticises or challenges the government. There should be a “free flow of ideas by word or image, online or offline”.  We call on international society to put pressure on the Bangladesh government to be held accountable for its inexcusable breach of basic human rights.