Debate in European Parliament on freedom of expression in Bangladesh
The European Parliament (EP) will see a debate on a motion today to adopt a resolution on the freedom of expression in Bangladesh.
The 15-point motion, brought by a group of EP members, highlighted the recent killing of foreign nationals, attacks on publishers, bloggers and activists, freedom of press, investigations into reported extrajudicial killings, national dialogue and other issues.
The text of the motion, which is not yet adopted as a resolution, says the EP lawmakers is seriously concerned with the violations of freedom of expression and free media coverage in Bangladesh, strongly condemns the attacks on publishers, bloggers and activists and deplores the loss of lives and condemns the recent killing of foreign citizens.
The EP strongly calls on Bangladeshi authorities to launch a credible and transparent investigation into the killing of publishers, bloggers and activists as well as foreign nationals to identify perpetrators of such heinous crimes and bring them to justice.
It urges the government of Bangladesh to recognise and respect freedom of the press and media and to allow human rights groups to play an important role in strengthening accountability and documenting human rights abuses; urges the Bangladeshi authorities to revoke the new media policy and abide by their obligations to allow free speech and expression.
The EP asks for the full independence of the media to be restored, inter alia, dropping all charges against editors and journalists who have published content critical of the government, allow the immediate opening of all media houses and social media services that were shut and immediately restore full and unhindered access to all forms of publications, including electronic ones.
The European Parliament calls for the Cyber-Security Act of 2015 and the Information and Communication Technology Act are brought in line with international free speech standards, and drop the criminalisation of "anti-State" publications.
It asks the government of Bangladesh to allow international NGOs in the country to undertake their mission, including Amnesty International and Transparency International.
The EP urges the government of Bangladesh to launch an investigation into the extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances of opposition political activists in the country, urges for the release of all opposition political leaders that have been illegally detained for participating or being thought to be participating in protected speech and assembly.
It calls on the government of Bangladesh to accept the call for a national dialogue from opposition political parties and civil society organisations on the current crises, and strongly urges the government of Bangladesh to initiate dialogue with all democratic parties, to restore the democratic process by way of holding a credible, genuine, transparent and inclusive election and hold a national dialogue to overcome the current instability.
It asks of the EU to review its trade relations with Bangladesh until it ensures the return of democratic governance in the country, asks the EEAS and the EU delegation, as well as Member State delegations, to use all available instruments to ensure the respect of human rights and the rule of law in Bangladesh, including the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.
The EP calls on the EU, in line with its Strategic Framework on human rights and democracy, to immediately raise the above concerns and recommendations with Bangladeshi authorities.
The EP instructs its President to forward this resolution, once adopted, to the Government and Parliament of Bangladesh, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.