17th May 2022 marks a year since Rozina Islam, a renowned Bangladeshi investigative journalist, was arrested for violating the Official Secrets Act of 1923 – an outdated colonial law, which infringes of civil society’s fundamental right of access to information.
ARTICLE 19 and partner organisations call for a speedy investigation and a fair trial for Rozina and urge the authorities to abolish the Official Secrets Act, which has been blatantly abused in her case.
Rozina, who investigated stories of government corruption and mismanagement of the health sector in Bangladesh during the pandemic, was arrested on 17th May 2021, after a meeting at the Ministry of Health. Following her arrest, she was held for six hours in confinement, where she suffered physical and mental harassment.
Since then, Rozina has been facing charges of up to 14 years in prison, or even a death penalty. There has been no substantial review of her case and the charges against her have not been withdrawn. Rozina is required to appear in court multiple times a month, with dates often postponed or canceled at the last minute.
Commenting on Rozina’s case, Faruq Faisel, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 South Asia, said:
“A year since her arrest, Rozina continues to face uncertainty and injustice at the hands of Bangladeshi authorities. The charges brought against her are based on a law that should never have been used against journalists, as it impedes on their right to access information and directly contradicts the right to free expression, enshrined in the Constitution.
“Rozina’s case illustrates the broader challenges that the free press faces in Bangladesh. Those who expose government corruption continue to be at risk, as the authorities use intimidation tactics to silence the truth.
“Rozina continues to face adversity with courage and determination and the international community must continue to stand with her and demand justice. We call for a speedy investigation and a fair trial, so Rozina can continue her vital work as a journalist.
“As the outdated law is abused to harass a journalist, we demand immediate action from the Government and the policy makers to abolish the Official Secrets Act of 1923.”