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Bangladesh media restrictions under state of emergency draw fire

[JURIST] The Committee to Protect Journalists [advocacy website], an international press freedom group, lashed out [press release] Friday at new media rules imposed in Bangladesh Thursday in the wake of the government's declaration of a state of emergency earlier this month. The Emergency Powers Rules of 2007 [UNB report] restrict reporting of political activities in the country and provide for up to five years in prison for offenders. They allow news programming deemed "provocative or harmful" to be blocked and broadcast equipment and printing presses to be seized. CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said "These rules give authorities sweeping powers of censorship that will deprive Bangladeshi citizens of independent information at this critical time of political upheaval. We call on the interim government to rescind these repressive rules immediately."

Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency January 11 [JURIST report] and later indefinitely postponed elections scheduled for January 22 after the collapse of a caretaker government in the face of violent protests over election procedures. The head of the country's election commission resigned this past Monday, and the country's attorney general announced his resignation Wednesday [JURIST reports]. Reuters has more.

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