The European Parliament (EP) on Thursday adopted a ‘non-binding’ resolution asking Bangladesh authorities to restore the full independence of the media.“Parliament calls on the Bangladesh authorities to restore the full independence of the media,” the resolution mentioned.
The EP expressed its concern at the ‘growing restrictions’ on freedom of expression which have accompanied the rise of religious fundamentalism, intolerance and extremist violence in the country, according to the EP website.
It urged Bangladesh authorities to drop all the charges against publishers and journalists who have published content critical of the government.
The EP also urged the government to allow the immediate reopening of all media houses which were closed, and to urgently fulfill the country’s commitments and apply the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity endorsed in 2013.
It condemned the increasing attacks by ‘Islamist extremists’ on secularist writers, bloggers, religious minorities and foreign aid workers in Bangladesh and
The non-binding resolution was adopted by 586 votes to 31, with 25 abstentions.
A non-binding resolution is a written motion adopted by a deliberative body that cannot progress into a law. The substance of the resolution can be anything that can normally be proposed as a motion.
Earlier, the EP witnessed over half an hour of debate on Bangladesh issues under a joint motion.
Taking part in the debate, Green Party Member Jean Lambert said, “There’s a need for political sort of agreement in Bangladesh to move the country forward.”
She hoped that the government of Bangladesh will put in place a ‘system of protection’ for those at risks and that extends to the members of the political opposition too “because they have also been under attack in many circumstances.”
Lambert laid emphasis on ‘quality justice system’ that acts impartially to act to put forward the best interest of people and bring perpetrators to justice.
At the beginning of her statement, Lambert referred to her Bangladesh visit and said she very much regrets the need for the resolution today as she had seen very ‘vibrant press’ in Bangladesh in the past which she feels ‘under attack’ now. “…but it (vibrant press) is part of democratic development as our active NGOs and civil society.”
She said indeed much of Bangladesh’s considerable development in terms of gender equality, child nutrition and climate change adaptation is a result of civil society working with the government.
“I think it’s really important that there’s a general political condemnation of violent attacks and death threats towards journalists, bloggers and writers, indeed public in general,” she mentioned.
Earlier, an 18-point joint motion was tabled to adopt the resolution.