See More on Facebook

Analysis, Politics

Bangladesh approves new digital security act

Bangladesh has signed the Digital Security Bill into law amid widespread criticism that it curbs freedom of speech and expression and media freedom.


Written by

Updated: October 9, 2018

Termed draconian at home and abroad, the bill was passed in parliament on September 19, ignoring concerns of journalists and rights defenders and keeping a harsh provision that allows police officials to search or arrest anyone without a warrant.

The bill was sent to the president on Thursday with a number of local and international bodies requesting him to send it back to the House. TIB, ARTICLE 19, RTI Forum, Amnesty International, Ain o Salish Kendra and Human Rights Forum were among the organisations.

Article 80 of the constitution offered the president two options. He could give assent to the bill or return it to parliament with a message that the proposed law or any particular provisions be reconsidered. He also could suggest considering any amendments specified by him in the message.

But he must choose either of the options within 15 days after the bill is presented to him. If he fails to do so within the timeframe, he shall be deemed to have signed the bill at the expiration of that period.

According to sources, the president signed the bill around noon yesterday when the weekly cabinet meeting was taking place at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Nothing about the law was raised at the meeting though three ministers earlier had assured journalist leaders of placing their concerns before it.

Responding to a query, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam in his briefing at the secretariat said the cabinet meeting didn’t discuss the Digital Security Act.

A copy of the signed bill was sent to the Bangladesh Government Press from the Parliament Secretariat for publishing of the gazette notification.

After the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a senior minister wishing anonymity told this newspaper that the PM expressed her views at her October 3 press conference and so there was no need for any discussion regarding the law.

At that press conference, Hasina said journalists who don’t publish false news need not worry about the Digital Security Act. “If anybody doesn’t have any criminal mindset or any plan to commit an offence, he or she has nothing to worry about.”

Journalists and rights activists observe that the new act goes against the main spirit of the constitution.

On several occasions, the Sampadak Parishad (Editors’ Council), and media practitioners expressed serious concern over section 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the bill, saying the provisions restrict free-thinking, freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

But the law was enacted keeping the provisions intact.

After the passage of the bill, three ministers assured the Sampadak Parishad and journalist leaders of holding a meeting to draw up acceptable changes to the act.

The platform of editors called for a human chain on September 29 in front of the Jatiya Press Club.

The programme was later postponed in response to a request from Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu and his offer for talks. Dhaka Reporters’ Unity also postponed its human chain slated for September 27.

Later  on September 30, Sampadak Parishad had a meeting with Inu; Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar; Law Minister Anisul Huq and Prime Minister’s Media Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury.

After the meeting, the law minister pledged to sit with editors and journalist leaders in this regard and place the concerns at the cabinet meeting to work out amendments.

“The next cabinet meeting, scheduled for October 3, may not discuss the issue as it already has many other agendas. But the concerns of the Editors’ Council will be placed before the cabinet meeting after this one,” Anisul Huq said.

Yesterday’s cabinet meeting was the first one after October 3 but that saw no discussion regarding the act.

BSS adds: Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said the Digital Security Act was enacted mainly to punish evil persons and save the innocents.

“Good people need not panic upon enactment of the Digital Security Act as it will protect them and bring the evil persons to justice,” he told a discussion of AL’s industries and commerce affairs sub-committee at Krishibid Institution at Farmgate.

Turning down the BNP’s allegation that the Digital Security Act was aimed at prolonging the AL rule, Quader said the law is for checking digital crimes and spread of rumours that fuel violence.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Dawn
About the Author: Dawn is Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Politics

India, China step up the wooing but Rajapaksa in no hurry to align Sri Lanka

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will try to balance the competing interests of China, India in the region. The conversation in regional capitals after the emphatic win of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the Sri Lankan elections last month centres around a central question: Will he manage to pull a Sheikh Hasina on India and China? The reference, of course, is to the Bangladesh Prime Minister who many believe has managed to successfully push her country’s interests by balancing the competing strategic ambitions of China and India in South Asia. And Rajapaksa knows a thing or two about protecting what he believes are his country’s core interests. After all, he braved the Western world’s intense criticism – and India’s acute discomfort given its large domestic Tamil population – of the means adopted by him as Defence Minister in his brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s


By Ishan Joshi
December 12, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Nepal moves up in Human Development Index but still lags behind in South Asia

Nepal’s human development index of 0,579 indicates that people are living longer, are more educated and have greater incomes, according to the Human Development Report. Despite global progress in tackling poverty, hunger and disease, a ‘new generation of inequalities’ indicates that many societies are not working as they should and Nepal is not an exception, according to a new human development report released on Tuesday. The old inequalities were based on access to health services and education whereas the new generation of inequalities is based on technology, education and the climate, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report. “Previously, we talked about wealth as a major driver for inequality. Now, countries like Nepal are in another inequality trap and that concerns


By The Kathmandu Post
December 12, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Power transition after Apec summit

Mahathir open to stepping down after APEC summit. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the world’s oldest prime minister, has promised to hand over power to anointed successor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in spite of new sexual assault allegations against him. Dr Mahathir, 94, said he would not hand over before a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries that Malaysia is to host in November 2020, but could be ready after that. “I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change immediately before the Apec summit would be disruptive. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him (Anwar). If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise, ” he said in an interview w


By The Star
December 11, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Communist Party of China calls for efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up

Political Bureau stresses importance of winning three critical battles in 2020. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee called on Friday for solid efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up, amid tensions in the external environment, to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained next year. The general trend of China’s economy in maintaining stable and long-term positive operation remains unchanged, according to a statement released after the bureau’s meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. China will keep its economic growth within a reasonable range in 2020, with more “forwarding-looking, targeted and effective” policies, the statement said. The nation will pursue a policy framework that allows macro policies to be stable, micro policies


By China Daily
December 9, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Is polarisation driven by Hyper Information Disorder Syndrome?

In a study of Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Poland, Turkey and the US, writes ANDREW SHENG, scientists attribute populism to the rise of decisive leaders who push nationalism, demonise opponents and stir up issues that further divide societies. BANGKOK – Mass protests seem to be breaking out all over the place, from Hong Kong to Santiago, Tehran, Bolivia, Catalonia, Ecuador, France and Iraq to Lebanon.  The root causes of these protests have many local reasons, but there are common themes, such as inequality, corruption, incompetent governments, rural-urban migration, demography, anger, social media and demand for change. But underlying all these protests is the growing polarization of societies, increasingly manifested in viol


By Asia News Network
December 9, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Rohingya Crisis Fallout

Transparency International Bangladesh has painted a grim outlook for the crisis. Bangladesh faces long-term financial, political and security challenges as Rohingya repatriation may not happen anytime soon, said Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman. The fund from the international community for nearly one million Rohingyas may not sustain as no strong international initiative has been taken to oblige Myanmar for creating a conducive environment for the refugees to return soon, he said. “As a result, Bangladesh’s socio-economic instability will grow. There are risks of security at local and national levels. The crisis also creates political and diplomatic challenges for the government,” Iftekharuzzaman said. It also involves the risks of growing extremism as the people who face violence are more likely to become violent, he said at a press confere


By Daily Star
December 6, 2019