Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday said Prothom Alo senior correspondent Rozina Islam will get fair treatment and judgement, emphasising that Bangladesh’s judiciary is very independent.
“Bangladesh’s judiciary is very independent, she [Rozina] will get fair treatment, and judgment… everybody. We don’t want anyone to suffer,” he told CNN in a live interview, mentioning that it is a legal issue and in the process of that they do not intend to interfere with it.
Dr Momen said there is law in the country and they honour the law, and that is why they do not want to talk about it much since it is in the court. “Rozina will get a totally fair judgment… no doubt about that.”
On Thursday, Dr Momen said it is very regrettable what happened to journalist Rozina Islam and there is nothing to hide by the government.
“It’s very regrettable. The government of Sheikh Hasina is a media-friendly one. We’ve nothing to hide. I know, as Foreign Ministry, we’ve to face it. Many will raise questions. We don’t want such incidents,” Dr Momen said.
He appreciated the role of the media for unearthing many stories, including the pillow saga and Shahed Karim issues.
“The government has taken action (after those stories are published). You (media) help the government. You’re part of the government. You’re helping us (govt) much. We thank you,” he said.
Dr Momen referred to what ruling Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said on Wednesday and appreciated Hanif’s remarks.
Hanif said the incident that took place in the Secretariat with journalist Rozina Islam was undesirable and that the country would benefit if strict action was taken against the corrupt instead of filing cases against journalists.
Dr Momen said this should have been managed by the Health Ministry.
Referring to what his other colleagues said, Dr Momen said Rozina will get justice. “It’s unexpected.”
Rozina is accused under sections 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act and sections 379 and 411 of the Penal Code, for allegedly attempting to “collect sensitive government documents and taking photos of them” at the Health Ministry.
On May 18, a magistrate court turned down the police department’s request for a 5-day remand and instead sent her to jail.
Rozina was confined to a room for nearly six hours as she went to the Health Ministry on May 17 when she fell ill and fainted. She was then taken to Shahbagh Police Station.
On Thursday, the Human Rights Watch said Bangladesh authorities should drop all the “oppressive charges” against renowned journalist Rozina Islam.
Rozina’s colleagues believe she was detained over her reporting on corruption and mismanagement in the public health sector, including the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, said the HRW.