Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday binned the Reporters Without Borders' report alleging government regulation on media, saying the media is free to publish any report in the country.
“The government has not enforced any media censorship,” he told journalists.
Bangladesh slid four notches and is now 150th in the World Press Freedom Index revealed by Reporters Without Borders on Thursday.
The situation was worrying in Bangladesh, where reporters covering protests and the election were targets of unprecedented violence, says the index, available on its website.
“I do not agree with the report and I think the media in Bangladesh is working independently,” he told journalists after attending the inauguration of “Ruposhi Bangla National Photo Exhibition, Competition and Reception Ceremony” at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
Bangladesh Photo Journalist Association (BPJA) organised the event.
Dr Hasan said, “I know that there are many restrictions on publishing reports in the top 10 countries, as per the organisation. Even they have to pay a fine if they publish any wrong report.”
“I don't know how they [Reporters Without Borders] conduct the survey,” he added.
He said the media is working freely in Bangladesh and a big revolution has taken place in the industry in the last 10 years. Among others, the number of newspapers has increased from 700 to 1,200, he added.
Dr Hasan, also publicity and publication secretary of Awami League, said the government is working relentlessly for the betterment of media and has taken various steps to ensure its freedom.
On a question about BNP chief Khaleda Zia's release, Dr Hasan said she is now in jail, being convicted by the court.
“Only the court has the authority to release her if she seeks bail. If she seeks release on parole then the government will consider her plea. Otherwise, there is no way to release her,” he added.
About the possibility of BNP's elected MPs joining parliament, the minister said people will welcome the decision if they join the House. “We will also welcome it.”
“If they join parliament, it will be a positive decision. I think they could play a vital role in parliament,” he added.
At yesterday's event, Dr Hasan urged the photojournalist association to hold the exhibition every year to encourage newcomers as well as professionals.
State Minister for Shipping Ministry Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury and Jatiya Press Club President Saiful Islam addressed the programme as special guests with Shilpakala Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky in the chair.
Shilpakala Secretary Kazi Asaduzzaman, BPJA President Golam Mostafa and General Secretary Kajal Hazra, among others, spoke on the occasion.
Later, the minister handed over awards (posthumous) to three photojournalists' family members for their contribution to photography.
They are: SM Mozammel Hossain, Mosharraf Hossain Lal and Jahirul Haque.