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CJA urges the government to rethink the Digital Security Act

  • Published at 09:47 pm September 23rd, 2018
Digital security act edited info

The new law provides for a minimum of seven years and a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment and monetary fines of a minimum of Tk2.5 million and a maximum of Tk10 million, or both, for illegal access and destruction of any important information related to state affairs

The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) has expressedits “acute concern”at the passage of the Digital Security Act, saying the step goes against human rights and freedom of expression in Bangladesh. 

The parliament on September 18had passed the much-talked-about Digital Security Bill 2018, which provides for stiff penalties for a wide variety of cyber infractions.

This new attempt to muzzle free expression in Bangladesh comes at a time of heightened concern over the continued detention of acclaimed photojournalist Shahidul Alam under Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, said CJA.

“It is deeply regrettable that the measure has been enacted after serious questions have already been raised regarding persistent abuse of Section 57 of the ICT Act, which the Digital Security Act replaces.”

The CJA called on the Bangladesh government, in the larger interest of democracy and rule of law, to take speedy measures to correct the wrong done to Shahidul and release him.

It also urged the government to rethink the Digital Security Act and create an environment that would allow the country’s people the liberty to exercise their right of free expression as underwritten by the country’s original constitution. 

Journalists and rights campaigners say the law could quash freedom of speech, especially on social media, and would undermine responsible journalism.

The new law provides for a minimum of seven years and a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment and monetary fines of a minimum of Tk2.5 million and a maximum of Tk10 million, or both, for illegal access and destruction of any important information related to state affairs.

“The punishment will be life imprisonment and a monetary fine of Tk5 crore (Tk50 million) for second offenders,” Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mostafa Jabbar said when tabling the bill in parliament.

However, several rights organizations and journalist associations have also protested the passage of the new act in the past few days.

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