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Editors' Council rejects Digital Security Bill
The Editors' Council on Sunday rejected the Digital Security Bill along with a parliamentary standing committee report on it.
`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 in the bill posing serious threats to freedom of expression and media operation,' said Editors' Council in a statement.
The report of the parliamentary committee on the post, telecommunication and ICT ministry was released to press on Tuesday.
The Editors' Council, at a meeting held at the Daily Star Centre on Sunday also expressed surprise, disappointment and shock over the standing committee report as it had had totally ignored the protests and concerns expressed by journalists and media organizations, said the statement.
It said that the Editors' Council was forced to reject the JS body report and the Digital Security Bill because `it is opposed to the guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom of the press by the Constitution in Articles 39(2) A and B, `it is opposed to the idea of freedom of thoughts and independence of media as enshrined in the spirit of our Liberation War, `it is opposed to the basic practice of democracy that Bangladesh has always fought and stood for,' and `it is opposed to the fundamental principles of journalism and freedom of the media that journalists in Bangladesh have struggled for.'
`However, we welcome the inclusion of the Right to Information Act (RTI) under section 3, but we express our concern at the inclusion of colonial era's Official Secrets Act that is in clear contradiction with the RTI,' it said.
It said that the council recalled that the editors had a meeting with the law minister in the presence of the ICT minister during which both the ministers assured them that measures would be taken to mitigate their concerns.
`We also recall with gratitude that the aforementioned JS Standing Committee met with the representatives of the EditorsÕ Council the BFUJ and the ATCO 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 finalising its report but the meeting never took place,' the statement said.
`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,' it said.
The statement was made by News Today founding editor Reazuddin Ahmed, Manabzamin editor Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman, New Age editor Nurul Kabir, The Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam, Bhorer Kagoj editor Shyamal Dutta, Kaler Kantho editor Imdadul Haq Milan, Bangladesh Pratidin editor Naem Nizam, Naya Diganta editor Alamgir Mohiuddin, Daily Inqilab editor AMM Bahauddin, Dainik Azadi editor M A Malek, Karatoa editor Md Mozammel Haque, The Independent editor M Shamsur Rahman, Sangbad acting editor Khandaker Muniruzzaman, Jugantor acting editor Saiful Alam, Bonik Barta editor Dewan Hanif Mahmud, Dhaka Tribune editor Zafar Sobhan, Samakal acting editor Mustafiz Shafi and Financial Express acting editor Shahiduzzaman Khan.