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ED: Abusing the law

  • Published at 08:18 am July 14th, 2021
journalists arrested dsa case
DHAKA TRIBUNE

DSA in this case, and in so many others, is being used simply as a weapon to silence the press

By now, it should be clear to all that the draconian Digital Security Act harms more people than it actually protects. The latest victims are three journalists from Thakurgaon -- Tanvir Hasan Tanu, Rahim Shuvo, and Abdul Latif Litu -- who have been slapped with the DSA for publishing news reports on alleged irregularities and corruption regarding food allocation for Covid-19 patients at a hospital.

Upon Tanvir’s arrest, quite understandably, journalists across the country have protested, because if a reporter can be charged for merely reporting on hospital irregularities, our news media is in serious trouble.

Since Tanvir fell sick after his arrest, he was granted bail on medical grounds. This is a small mercy, but in the past, we have seen bail denied for DSA cases. The case of these three journalists once again highlights how just about any reason can be cooked up to harass or persecute journalists. Putting aside the quality or merits of the reporting, there is no conceivable reason for why a journalist should be arrested and handcuffed in this manner. DSA in this case, and in so many others, is being used simply as a weapon to silence the press.

From time to time, irregularities are indeed observed in the health sector, and it is part of the news media’s duty to report on the facts as they are found. Silencing those who step forward and try to do so sends a chilling message to all mainstream media, and this creates fertile ground for misinformation to breed.

While institutions and individuals have every right to bring forward grievances regarding what has been written about them, arresting and handcuffing journalists in such an ad hoc manner is something that should worry all of us.