Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has commemorated the International Anti-Corruption Day 2021 with various events at national and local levels on 9 December 2021. The theme of this year’s celebration was ‘Your Right, Your Role – Say No to Corruption. TIB celebrated the day by declaring the winners of two of its flagship programmes, i.e., the Investigative Journalism Awards and Anti-Corruption Cartoon Competitions, and inauguration of the week-long exhibition of curated cartoons. Along with these national events, members of TIB inspired Committees of Concerned Citizens (CCC), Citizens for Transparency (Shojon), Youth Engagement and Support (YES) groups, and YES Friends Groups participated in human chain programmes organised in association with the Anti-Corruption Commission in 45 areas including Dhaka. TIB’s volunteer groups carried out rallies, seminars, cultural programmes, orientations, and quiz competitions nationwide.
As part of national-level initiatives, TIB announced the Investigative Journalism Awards 2021 following a discussion on how institutional challenges adversely affect investigative journalism in Bangladesh. . Zafar Sadiq Akhond, in his keynote paper, stated that there was no doubt that the restrictive legal regime posed as a serious impediment to investigative journalism. Nevertheless, the media industry in Bangladesh can not ignore its responsibility when it comes to the institutionalisation of professionalism, good governance, proper human resource policy, transparent management, and investment in capacity building initiatives for the journalists.
During the open discussion on the keynote paper, the speakers said that “the high number of media outlets does not necessarily guarantee an environment of media vibrancy; instead, free press requires better governance in who gets media licenses and how those are run”. It is remarkable that the countrymen believe in social media but not mainstream media because of trust issues. And, an honest journalist has at disposal the best weapon, the truth, to fight legal harassment.
TIB Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman reaffirmed the speakers’ concerns and commented, “The state, and the government must ensure the environment that is needed for investigative journalism. However, a culture of repression is seen nowadays regarding freedom of speech and other fundamental rights. We want to remind the government that our constitution does not support this.”
Following the discussion, TIB announced the Anti-Corruption Investigative Journalism Awards 2021. This year, ten journalists, including two camerapersons, were awarded in 7 categories.
Later in the day the results of TIB’s flagship Anti-Corruption Cartoon Competition were announced alongside the inauguration of the exhibition of curated cartoons at TIB’s Meghomala Conference Hall. Suzanne Mueller, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland, Tom Burge, Counsellor and Head of Governance and Political Team of the British High Commission, and Paola Castro Neiderstam, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Sweden, were present as guests of honour. The guests spoke at the awards giving ceremony. They said that corruption is a global problem that erodes the glue that binds together democracy, good governance, and human rights. It impacts the poor and the vulnerable the most. They urged everyone to fight corruption on all fronts and said that anti-corruption initiatives should be prioritised by society and the individual. The guests also applauded TIB for engaging youth in the fight against corruption through multifaceted approaches, including the nationwide anti-corruption cartoon competitions.
While speaking at the anti-corruption cartoon awards event, Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, “Corruption is such a disease that everyone must fight it unitedly. The whole society has to take part, especially the young people. And the government must create a suitable environment for that to materialise. ” Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of TIB, Dr. Perween Hasan, said, “Cartoons are a great medium in the fight against corruption. This competition has enabled the young people to participate in the social movement against corruption.”
Notably, the theme of the 16th iteration of the annual anti-corruption cartoon competition was the impact of Coronavirus on the health and education sectors. In total, 118 cartoonists submitted 168 cartoons in two age groups. Six cartoonists were awarded for their cartoons, while 33 cartoonists received special mentions. The exhibition of the curated cartoons will take place until 23 December 2021 at TIB’s Meghomala Conference Hall at Dhanmondi from 3 pm to 7 pm.