Media freedom a must for functional democracy: UK High Commissioner
Freedom of expression and the media are essential qualities of any functioning democracy that nurtures peoples' mind to create and execute their good ideas to build a democratic society, said British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson on Monday.
He said nations will flourish from free exchange of ideas and people must be allowed to discuss and debate issues freely to challenge their governments and to make informed decisions.
The British envoy made the remark at a discussion organized by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) at the auditorium of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in the city.
"Freedom of expression and the media are essential qualities of any functioning democracy that nurtures peoples' mind to create and execute their good ideas to build a democratic society," Dickson said.
He mentioned that a free media is vital to creating an active, informed, creative and engaged population.
DCAB President Raheed Ejaz and General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke on the occasion.
Prior to the 'Global Conference for Media Freedom' that will take place on July 10-July 11 in London, Dickson said the UK is committed to media freedom and the protection of journalists across the world.
The UK and Canada will co-host the conference.
During the talk the Dickson focused on various issues including business and trade, bi-lateral international issues and Rohingya issue.
The British High Commissioner laid emphasis on more 'unified approach' in the UN Security Council saying it is really urgent to work together globally to find a solution to Rohingya crisis.
He said the news headlines that he had seen over the last couple of days on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's just-concluded China visit are 'very encouraging'.
During the visit, Bangladesh and China agreed on speedy solution to the Rohingya crisis noting that it cannot be kept unresolved.
He highlighted three things that needed to be considered necessary for beginning repatriation on a safe, voluntary and dignified manner, including implementation of the Kofi Annan report on Rakhine.
The High Commissioner said Rohingya people will get back confidence if their citizenship rights are granted.
Dickson said the conference will shine a spotlight on media repression and build a coalition of the governments committed to a stronger diplomatic response when media freedom is curtailed.
"Our co-host Canada is developing a pledge, which we hope participants will sign up to so that they can protect journalists and defend media freedom in their countries," the British High Commissioner said.
"The conference will look at four areas - national frameworks and legislation, protection and prosecution including impunity, building trust in the media and countering disinformation and media sustainability," the commissioner said.
"As Bangladesh continues its journey to reach middle income status it is so vital to allow space for a vibrant civil society through which the people - and especially young people - can channel their energies,and indeed their frustrations within the law," he said.