GENEVA (22 February 2023) – UN experts* today urged the Bangladesh government to drop the charges against investigative journalist Rozina Islam and end the practice of protracted prosecution of journalists and human rights defenders.

“We are seriously concerned that the criminal charges and the prolongation of the investigation against Ms. Islam appear to be in direct retaliation for her investigative reporting,” said the experts.

In 2021 Rozina Islam, a journalist employed by Bangladesh’s largest daily newspaper, Prothom Alo, reported on alleged corruption and mismanagement in the health sector and irregularities in the procurement of emergency medical supplies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. On 17 May 2021, Ms. Islam went to the Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to meet with senior officials. While there she was detained and accused of having used her cell phone without permission to photograph documents related to government negotiations on the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines. She was later charged under the Official Secrets Act and the Penal Code.

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