The council said the report had totally ignored the protests and concerns expressed by journalists and media organizations
The Editors Council, at its meeting in The Daily Star Centre, Dhaka on Sunday, expressed its surprise, disappointment and shock at the final report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Post, Telecommunication and ICT Ministry on the draft Digital Security Act 2018.
The council said the report had totally ignored the protests and concerns expressed by journalists and media organizations.
“We are forced to reject the said report as it suggested no fundamental changes to sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the Draft Act that pose serious threats to freedom of expression and media operation,” the statement said.
“However, we welcome the inclusion of the Right to Information Act (RTI) under Section 3, but we express our concern at the inclusion of the colonial era Official Secrets Act that is in clear contradiction with the RTI.
“WE RECALL that we had a meeting with the honourable law minister in the presence of the honourable ICT minister, during which both ministers assured us of taking measures to mitigate our concerns.
“WE ALSO RECALL with gratitude that the aforementioned JS Standing Committee met with the representatives of Sampadak Parishad [Editors Council], BFUJ [Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists] and ATCO [Association of Television Channel Owners] over two sittings, during which we showed how the draft law stifles media freedom, a prerequisite for any democracy. The JS committee was supposed to meet with us once more before finalizing its report, but the meeting never took place,” the statement said.
It further said the council is forced to reject the parliamentary committee’s report and the draft digital security law because:
1 It is opposed to the guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom of the press by the constitution in Articles 39(2), Sections A and B
2 It is opposed to the idea of freedom of thoughts and independence of media as enshrined in the spirit of the Liberation War
3 It is opposed to the basic practice of democracy that Bangladesh has always fought and stood for
4 It is opposed to the fundamental principles of journalism and freedom of the media that journalists in Bangladesh have struggled for
“In conclusion, we sincerely urge the parliament, which is the House of the People and the repository of peoples’ aspiration for all sorts of freedoms, not to pass this draft Digital Security Act which will gravely affect journalistic freedoms and seriously curtail democracy in Bangladesh.”
The statement was made by:
1 Reazuddin Ahmed, founding editor of the News Today
2 Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, editor of the Daily Manab Zamin
3 Matiur Rahman, editor of Prothom Alo
4 Nurul Kabir, editor of the New Age
5 Mahfuz Anam, editor of The Daily Star
6 Zafar Sobhan, editor of the Dhaka Tribune
7 Shyamal Dutta, editor of Bhorer Kagoj
8 Imdadul Haq Milon, editor of Kaler Kantho
9 Naem Nizam, editor of Bangladesh Pratidin
10 Alamgir Mohiuddin, editor of Naya Diganta
11 AMM Bahauddin, editor of the Daily Inqilab
12 MA Malek, editor of Dainik Azadi
13 Md Mozammel Haque, editor of Karatoa
14 M Shamsur Rahman, editor of The Independent
15 Khandaker Muniruzzaman, acting editor of The Sangbad
16 Saiful Alam, acting editor of Jugantor
17 Dewan Hanif Mahmud, editor of Bonik Barta
18 Mustafiz Shafi, acting editor of Samakal
19. Shahiduzzaman Khan, acting editor of the Financial Express.