The freedom to state our opinion is a vital part of our individual distinctiveness -Discuss
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without restriction. The concept of freedom of expression is sometimes used interchangeably, but also all the actions that seek, receive and distribute information or despite of the medium used. The freedom to state our opinion is a vital part of our individual distinctiveness. Talking and writing about our opinions we are contributing ideas and participating in the general public. Freedom of expression is sheltered in article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”( Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Freedom of expression is broadly accepted as a basic human right that must be available to all. Countries and organizations may set limitations on freedom of expression and speech. These limits can be a method of scheming general people. Restricting voting rights, censoring communication and skill and banning specific religious and political groups are some of the ways governments have used for controlling general public. Even there are no limitations on freedom of speech and expression in most of the counties, for special reason like for the betterment of the state, general people as well as in emergency situation in can be restricted.
The right to freedom of speech and expression:
The term of freedom of speech can be found in the early human rights documents. The Declaration provides for freedom of expression in Article 11, which states that: “The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.” The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 provides Article 19, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Importance of right to freedom of speech and expression:
The Freedom of Speech and expression is essential for many reasons. It is of supreme significance in a democratic society, for an efficient and just government. Free and fair democratic election is not possible unless candidates are free to debate and criticize each other’s policies as well as government can not be run efficiently. if corruptions and other abuses happens then it is possible to expose by a free press and other news media and stop those corruptions. we can not be expect good democracy and government without the freedom of speech and expression.
The freedom of right to expression and speech in Bangladesh:
Normally general people have the right to express their expression freely. Laws main task is to protect this right. Laws normally make sure that what people are talking is in the limit. People are responsible to use it correctly. Laws give the guidance to the general people to use their power of the right to freedom of speech and expression.
Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh ensures the freedom of speech and expression, in the article 39 (1, 2) of chapter-3:
- “Freedom or thought and conscience are guaranteed.
- Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of
the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation
to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence-
(a) the right of every citizen of freedom of speech and expression; and freedom of the press, are guaranteed.”
Article 39 of the Bangladesh Constitution has given the freedom of thinking, conscience and speech. Article 39(1) has assured the freedom of thought and conscience in absolute by stating that no one can impose any restriction on anyone’s thinking and speaking. It also says that the state even cannot do anything or pass anything which can direct the fundamental right of speech and expression. Thought, speech, expression and conscience are the inherent attributes of public and it is a on going process through which people can generate ideas, says publicly and serve the government as well as the state. So the Constitution very perfectly keeps this right beyond any restriction and it is very much needed.
Especially the freedom of speech and expression and freedom of press have been assured by Article 39(2) (a) of the Bangladesh Constitution. Freedom of press is contained the freedom of speech and expression though bearing in mind the significance of print media, liberty of press has been mentioned independently.
It is the fundamental right to citizens of Bangladesh that they can do exercises their autonomy of speech and expression by remaining inside the constitutionally declared prospect. People will be considered to have dishonored the constitutional condition and will be subject to consent to law if anybody oversteps the border.
Restrictions on the freedom of right to expression and speech in Bangladesh:
Some logical limitations found in the article 39(2) are as follows-
“(a) Against the interest of security of the State
(b) Against the friendly relation with foreign state
(c) Violation of public order
(d) Violation of decency or morality
(e) Anything related to contempt of court
(f) Defamation or incitement to any offense”
This article39 (2) says different aspects of restrictions of the freedom of speech and expression. If there is any interest of the security of the state like emergency situation government can impose restriction on this freedom. If any speech is against any friendly foreign state which can hamper the relation between Bangladesh and that country, that speech can be restricted. At the same time if violation of public order and violation of decency or morality happens then this right can also be restricted. Anything related to contempt of court is also restricted. If anyone wants to hamper the reputation of any person by the misuse of the power is strictly prohibited.
In the constitution of Bangladesh, article 141(B) says about suspension of provisions of certain articles during emergencies that, “While a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, nothing in articles 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 42 shall restrict the power of the State to make any law or to take any executive action which the State would, but for the provisions contained in Part III of this Constitution, be competent to make or to take, but any law so made shall, to the extent of the incompetence, cease to have effect as soon as the Proclamation ceases to operate, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before the law so ceases to have effect.”
The article 141(B) is about suspension of provisions of some articles during emergency situation. This article mainly mentioned that when there is an emergency situation is in operation the article 39 which is ensuring the freedom of right to speech and expression can also be stopped for certain timeframe tor the betterment of the nation.
Past restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and speech:
At the high time of ensuring of right to freedom of expression and speech some government bogies tried to manipulate the rule for their own facility. For instance, the BNP government closed Ekushey TV in its second term while the present government has followed go with with Channel-1 and Jamuna television. At the same time present government also seems to way out to some laws that place certain media persons at the back bars.
Present restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and speech:
According to sources in the information ministry a draft National Broadcasting Policy has been submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. This policy has proposed to restrict the electronic media in reverence of broadcasting news items or programs that may make critical comments about national figures such as Bangabandhu, cause threat to national security, shot at character elimination, stand against a friendly foreign country, or cause stimulus to crimes. The draft will not contradict with the constitution or the RTI act, said by a highly positioned source at the information ministry. This is directly clashing with the constitution (section 39).
Barrister Sara Hossain, honorary director of Blast (Bangladesh Legal Aid and Service Trust), says that “I have not yet read the actual text of the draft Broadcasting Policy. But from reports in the press it appears that it purports to impose restrictions on what can be said on talk shows, and also on making any derogatory comments about certain political figures. Such restrictions appear to be completely arbitrary and to grossly violate fundamental rights to freedom of expression”.
Present Government and right to freedom of expression and speech:
present government(BAL) in its election manifesto has said, “The freedom of all types of mass media and flow of information will be ensured” and “Investigation and trial of assassination of all journalists will be made expeditiously and the real criminals will be given exemplary punishment. Persecution and intimidation of journalists will be stopped.”
But if the National Broadcasting Policy is implemented then the freedom of all types of media will be restricted. It will restrict the freedom of speech and expression and a contradiction of election manifesto will be present there. Article 26(2) says that, “The State shall not make any law inconsistent with any provisions of this Part, and any law so made shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.” That means state is unable to make any law which is contradictory to Bangladesh constitution.
Right to freedom of expression and speech is our fundamental right. This is the fundamental right in most of the countries. But most of the people of Bangladesh are not aware about the right. For certain thing the right can be restricted like in the interests of the security of
the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation
to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to any offense. In the emergencies, it can also be restricted. But in the normal situation no one has the power to restrict, manipulate or hamper the right.
Bangladesh constitution, article 26(2); available at www1.umn.edu/humanrts/research/bangladesh-constitution.pdf
Bangladesh constitution, article 39 (1, 2) of chapter-3; available at www1.umn.edu/humanrts/research/bangladesh-constitution.pdf
Bangladesh constitution, article 39 (2) of chapter-3; available at www1.umn.edu/humanrts/research/bangladesh-constitution.pdf
Bangladesh constitution, article 141(B); available at www1.umn.edu/humanrts/research/bangladesh-constitution.pdf
Compilation: Mir Masrur Zaman & Riaz Uddin Khan Source: Mass-line Media Centre (MMC); para 4, available at http://www.banglarights.net/constitutional_hr_1.php
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, approved by national assembly of France august26, 1789, available at –http://www.hrcr.org/docs/frenchdec.html
Freedom of Speech, Para 1, available at-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech
Freedom of Speech, Para 2, available at-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech
Freedom of Expression , Para 2, Avilavle at- http://issues.tigweb.org/expression?gclid=CJ6Zjfv456sCFYJO4QodN2xMJw
Freedom of Speech: Rights and Restrictions by Mohammad Gani from USA
August 17, 2011, para 3, available at http://www.weeklyblitz.net/1659/freedom-of-speech-rights-and-restrictionsGeneral Assembly of the United Nations (1948-12-10).“Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (in English/French) (pdf). pp. 4–5. Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_by_country
Press Freedom at Stake by Rifat Munim, para 1, available at- http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2011/09/03/media.htm
Press Freedom at Stake by Rifat Munim, para 6, available at- http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2011/09/03/media.htm
Press Freedom at Stake by Rifat Munim, para 7, available at- http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2011/09/03/media.htm
Press Freedom at Stake by Rifat Munim, para 10, available at- http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2011/09/03/media.htm
Smith, David (2006-02-05). “Timeline: a history of free speech”.The Guardian (London) available at http://www.guardian .co.uk/ me dia/2006/feb/ 05/religion.news