Virtual Dialogue with Journalists and Human Rights Defenders

Human Rights Defenders and journalists are proactive citizens who address any and every incident of human rights violation and stand up and raise their voice against such incidents. With the aim of further empowering and enhancing their skills to better promote and protect human rights around the country, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) organised a three-day long virtual Dialogue with Human Rights Defenders and Journalists from 5 to 7 October 2020. A total of 35 participants, including human rights defenders and local and national level journalists from electronic, print and online media attended the virtual event. The participants joined from 13 different districts throughout Bangladesh, namely Bagerhat, Bogura, Cox Bazar, Dhaka, Dinajpur, Jhenaidah, Joypurhat, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Narail, Pirojpur, Potuakhali, Rajshahi.

Click here to play all the sessions as a Playlist.

As an introductory note, Nina Goswami, Senior Deputy Director, ASK, expressed that through such a dialogue, ASK hopes to further strengthen the collaborative working relationship between human rights defenders and journalists through mutual knowledge and skills sharing for the protection and promotion of human rights.

In the first session of the Dialogue, Md Nur Khan, Human Rights Activist and General Secretary, Executive Committee, ASK, highlighted the current human rights situation of Bangladesh. He shed light on multiple instances of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, custodial torture and deaths, border killings, restrictions on freedom of expression, rise in the number of arrests under the Digital Security Act and lastly, the alarming rise in instances of violence against women and children, especially domestic violence and rape. He suggested the multiple ways through which the human rights defenders and journalists can better monitor the situation.

In the second session, Abu Sufian, Scientific Officer, National Forensic, DNA Profiling Laboratory, Dhaka Medical College presented on the ‘Usage of DNA Technology in Judiciary System’. He shared with the participants the origin of DNA Technology in the Judicial System and explained in detail how DNA profiling is done.

In the third session, Asif Munier, Human Rights and Cultural Activist, and National Consultant and Analyst on Migration, Displacement and Development Communication, spoke on the ‘Rights of Migrants’. He provided a detailed understanding of the rights of migrants as protected by the Constitution of Bangladesh, national laws and policies. He also highlighted the duties and responsibilities of the governments under the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

On 6 October, in the fourth session, Dr. Sohel Mahmud, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Forensic Medicine, Dhaka Medical College, highlighted the Medical Jurisprudence and the Importance of Forensics in the legal field. Amongst other issues, he gave the participants a brief understanding of the process of post-mortem, both clinical and medico-legal autopsy and most importantly, the significance and elements of inquest reports.

In the fifth session, Gitiara Nasreen, Professor, Department of Mass Communication & Journalism, University of Dhaka, spoke about ‘Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Press.’ She highlighted the significance of freedom of expression and press, and the extent of protection and restriction of the rights expressed under the Constitution, the duties of states under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

On 7 October, the final day of the dialogue, in the sixth session, Abu Ahmed Faijul Kabir, Senior Coordinator, ASK, discussed the draft law, ‘Shastho Seba Bastobayon Ain’ (Implementation of Healthcare Services Act) in detail. He explained the purpose, significance and necessity of drafting such a law in view of the various instances of medical malpractice, negligence and wrong treatments caused in Bangladesh.

The 3-day workshop ended with the seventh session by Tamanna Hoq Riti, Assistant Coordinator, ASK, on ‘Rights of Human Rights Defenders: Protection Mechanism’. She shared the origin and history of the making of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. She highlighted the definition of human rights defenders and the extent of their rights and the responsibilities and duties of the states and other relevant stakeholders as per the Declaration.
Through this dialogue, the journalists were able to enhance their skills and knowledge on various issues to proactively work as human rights defenders. Along with the journalists, the human rights defenders were also made aware of the use of national and international human rights mechanisms in the protection and promotion of human rights.
At the closing remarks, Abu Ahmed Faijul Kabir expressed his vote of thanks to the human rights defenders and journalists for their proactive and interactive discussion throughout the 3-day Dialogue.