PtG Article 23.06.2006

Cricket reporters still wait for official report on police assault

In Bangladesh, a group of sports journalists and press photographers are still waiting to hear the outcome of an official government probe into a brutal police attack on them at a cricket test match between Bangladesh and Australia at the end of April. The Asian Human Rights Commission is concerned about the delay of the report and allegations that the probe commission has listened to fake eyewitnesses.

The incident took place at Chittagong Divisional Stadium on 16 April during a lunch break of the cricket match. More than 20 journalists and photographers were staging a sit-down-strike to protest against an unmotivated police attack on an elderly photographer earlier that morning. The media people were attacked by a group of policemen with fists, sticks and riffle butts and several were hurt – some of them seriously.

The government of Bangladesh immediately appointed a judge to undertake a judicial probe into the attack. He promised to report back by 17 May but a month later a report has yet to be filed, says the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

In an update on its website, AHRC says that the journalists also allege that the judicial probe commission has been taking statements from fake ‘eye-witnesses’. These “eye-witnesses” are believed to be police sources and relatives of the policemen who took part in the attack.

So far there has been no official explanation for the delay of the report from the judicial probe commission. Meanwhile another committee has recommended to the Information Ministry that the journalists and photographers get paid compensation for personal injuries and damage to their cameras.

Bangladesh’s Deputy Inspector General of Police, Aminul Islam, has conducted his own inquiry and identified three police officers as those responsible for the attack. However, the police chief would prefer the judicial probe commission to decide what should happen to the officers.

Asian Human Rights Commission has opened an urgent appeal on the case. Learn more here (broken link)