Statement by Maria Arena, Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, on the situation of jailed journalist and cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore.
“I am seriously concerned at the wave of arrests targeting journalists in Bangladesh, including cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, on the grounds of the Digital Security Law of 2018, which can be used to unduly restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of media. (…) Being insulin-dependent, Ahmed Kabir Kishore’s health condition is a cause of great concern as the COVID-19 pandemic hits the country hard. Guaranteeing access to adequate care and medical treatment for Ahmed and to all those in need is a matter of urgency in the current context of the pandemic. His release would send a positive signal as to how the Bangladeshi Government is delivering on its commitments to international human rights treaties.“
Cartooning for Peace strongly welcomes the publication of this statement and strongly hopes that this appeal will be heard and drive to a prompt release.
The cartoonist, a recent recipient of the Robert Russell Courage in Cartooning Award of the CRNI association, has been in prison for more than 5 months, and his calls for release on bail have not been heeded. He is accused of spreading rumors and misinformation following the publication of a series of cartoons criticizing the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in his country.
Frontline Defenders, in a statement released today, also expressed concern about the increasing repression of freedom of expression and the growing number of arrests of human rights defenders, including journalists, in Bangladesh under the Digital Security Act (DSA) of 2018. The organization also recalls that the UN High Commissioner has urged governments to work to reduce the number of people in prison as a result of the pandemic.