Journalists, rights activists express concern

20 Sep,2018

The journalist community and rights activists on Wednesday expressed concern over Parliament passing the controversial Digital Security Bill 2018 ignoring widespread protests.

Former president of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists Manjurul Ahasan Bulbul said that the journalist community felt disappointed as their suggestions were not incorporated in the bill.
He expressed fears that the bill’s stipulations could be misused against working journalists.
He requested the government to review the bill as it could be used as a tool to create fears among working journalists.
Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Shahdeen Malik expressed disappointment over Parliament passing the bill calling it a ‘black chapter’ in the legislative history of the country.
Former information commission member Sadeka Halim said that the bill contradicted the Constitution and the Right to Information Act.
She said that the government should clarify to the nation with sections that evoked huge concern.
She said that incorporation of a section from Official Secrets Act 1923 was not acceptable as even the British government scrapped such laws as they come into conflict with UN Convention regarding freedom of expression.
Socialist Party of Bangladesh general secretary Khaliquzzaman said by passing the bill ignoring public opinion the government made it clear that the next general election would not reflect voters’ opinion.
He called the bill ‘anti people and a black legislation.
He urged the people to take to the streets to compel the government to drop the bill.
On Sunday, the Editors’ Council rejected the Digital Security Bill and a Parliamentary standing committee report on it as the committee recommended no changes to the controversial bill.
The Editors’ Council said in a statement, ‘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.’ 
The statement 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.’

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