May 22, 2023
DHAKA – Law Minister Anisul Huq today reiterated that some amendments will be brought to the Digital Security Act by September this year in order to minimise its misuse and to ensure its best practice.
“There were instances when I personally intervened to prevent misuse of DSA. However, I understand that we need a durable solution. Once we complete the review, some amendments will be brought to the law to prevent its misuse,” the minister said.
“Some doubters may think I am buying time but that is far from the truth. I have said before and reiterate now that we will make the amendments by September,” he added.
Anisul while speaking as the chief guest at a programme titled, “Digital Laws and Freedom of Opinion in Bangladesh”, jointly organised by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator and Brac University at BracU conference room in Dhaka.
The law minister said the Digital Security Act was not enacted to curb freedom of expression or to control the media nor it is being used to do so. “Its purpose was to combat cybercrimes.”
“We have heard several speakers by now and learned about different points of view. Dialogue and discussion are key to a democratic society; therefore, the government of Bangladesh encourages consultations with cross section of society as well as with international organisations. We have had lengthy discussions with the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and have listened to their point of view. We received their inputs and are reviewing it,” Anisul said.
He said the government will not allow the misuse of digital space to defame the country, the government and any individual.
“There is harassment of women online which needs to be addressed. All countries are governing digital space as it is the need of the hour. We need to protect our national interest. We need to protect our vulnerable populations who are being targeted and attacked. There is no question of repealing this law, but a review is definitely being considered,” the law minister said.
The speakers at the programme joined an open discussion and questioned the law minister about the DSA.
Jatiya Party lawmaker Ahsan Adelur Rahman said the punishment under some sections of the DSA are harsher than those of the Penal Code, and those are unfortunately a big barrier to the freedom of expression and challenge to democratic challenge.
He requested the law minister to specify the sections of the law and to amend the law to reduce the punishment.
Senior journalist Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul told the programme that misuse and abuse of the DSA must be stopped.
The DSA must be amended and the provision of bail should be incorporated in it, he added.
Chaired by the UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis, the function was also addressed by Brac University Pro-Vice Chancellor Syed Mahfuzul Aziz, and Professor Kaberi Gayen, among others.