** People rescuing an injured passenger from inside a passenger bus hit by a truck on Dhaka-Mawa Expressway in Shologhar area of Shreenagar upazila in Munshiganj on Thursday. ** Motorcycles allowed on Padma Bridge after 10 months ** Commuters charge extra fare, passengers disappointed ** 78 people killed in Yemen stampede ** Moon sighting committee meets today to ascertain Eid day ** 9 killed in road accidents in 3 districts ** US announces new $325 m military aid package for Ukraine ** Eid-ul-Fitr in Saudi Arabia today ** Eid exodus begins ** LPG price cut illusive ** 15 hurt as bus overturns in capital ** New interbank cheque clearing timings set for Eid holidays ** Four women hit by a train die in Tangail ** 12.28 lakh SIM users left Dhaka on Tuesday ** Sylhet engineer threatened over power outage ** People rush to village homes to spend Eid holidays with their near and dear ones. This photo was taken from Sadarghat Launch Terminal on Tuesday. NN photo ** Surge in cases of dehydration, diarrhoea amid summer heat wave ** Padma Bridge construction cost increases by Tk 2,412cr ** PM gives Tk 90m to Bangabazar fire victims ** Textile workers block highway demanding wage, Eid bonus ** Attack on PM's motorcade Ex-BNP MP, 3 others get life term ** Load-shedding increases for demand of electricity during heat wave ** Motorbikes to be allowed on Padma bridge from Thursday ** 5-day Eid vacation begins from today ** Take Nangalkot train accident as a warning about negligence of govt functionaries **

Repeal of Digital Security Act demanded

31 March 2023

Staff Reporter :
A volley of criticisms both home and abroad has been unleashed against the Digital Security Act (DSA) as the critics noted that the Act is obstructing the media freedom and expression which are the cornerstones of democratic values.
The European Union (EU), the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC), and Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN) have expressed concerns over the intimidation of the media by the DSA and demanded release of the arrested journalist Shamsuzzaman under the charge of DSA.
However, the government side has said that such statements and criticisms will not damage the reputation of Bangladesh.
In a tweet on its official page of the European Union in Bangladesh, the EU delegation expressed their concern by sharing a news link which seeks unconditional release of the journalist Samsuzzaman and called for special attention to criminal proceedings against journalists in any country.
"The European Union and its Member States in Bangladesh note that the arrests of, and criminal proceedings against, journalists in any country warrant particular scrutiny and attention,     in light of the imperative of protecting the freedom of media and of expression as part of democratic values," the tweet read.
On the other hand, the MFC in Bangladesh on Thursday expressed its concerns about the recent reports of violence against and intimidation of journalists in Bangladesh.
"We, the undersigned members of the MFC in Bangladesh, are concerned about recent reports of violence against and intimidation of journalists, including violence directed at reporters covering the Supreme Court elections, an assault on the brother of a London-based journalist for Al Jazeera, the attack on a Dhaka Tribune photojournalist, and the recent reported detention of a Prothom Alo journalist," a press release issued by the MFC on Thursday reads.
"We urge the authorities to investigate each of these instances promptly and impartially," it continued.
The press release was signed by the members of MFC USA, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
On the other hand, SHUJAN in a statement said, "We think various restrictive laws, including the DSA, have been enacted with the aim of stifling media freedom. Because of these laws, the freedom of expression for journalists is severely restricted. Their professional security is also at risk".  
At the same time, SHUJAN demanded repealing restrictive laws like the DSA to ensure people's freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Thursday demanded repeal of the 'draconian' Digital Security Act (DSA) and urged the government to stop intimidating the media and release the journalist of a national daily.
TIB in a press statement said the detention of journalist Shamsuzzaman Shams and his presentation in the court after long 30 hours as well as the filing of a case against him under the DSA is a violation of the constitutional right to security of life of any citizen and the constitutional obligation of free media.
"It sets a dangerous precedent of controlling and intimidating the media" the TIB said and demanded immediate repeal of the draconian Digital Security Act to uphold democratic principles.
Shams was produced to court 30 hours following his visibly illegal detention and was claimed as "missing" in the meantime, which violates the time limit stipulated by the law to produce an accused in court even if detained lawfully.
Terming this as disgraceful and highly disturbing, TIB Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman criticised the law enforcement agencies for unlawfully abducting the journalist and failing to produce him in court within the stipulated time frame. He also pointed out that grievances for alleged mistakes or discrepancies in media reporting can be redressed under the Press Council Act.
"When the Press Council Act is disregarded to first abduct a journalist and then shown arrested on non-bailable charges under the Digital Security Act, it clearly represents an agenda to intimidate and suppress the media or anyone exercising the right to dissent and freedom of opinion", he said.
As per media reports, the case against Shams was filed under sections 25(2), 31, and 35 of the Digital Security Act, of which section 31 is a non-bailable offence.
Iftekharuzzaman stated that there are credible evidences that these sections of the Digital Security Act are being misused as weapons to silence dissent and intimidate anyone with a different opinion, especially journalists.
"In the past few of days, two more journalists were subjected to violence and intimidation under the Digital Security Act," he mentioned.
He also said, "Even the incumbent Law Minister recognised that the law was being abused and promised its amendment. However, media personnel and critics continue to face persecution and violation of fundamental rights by targeted abuse of this law".

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