The Editors’ Council has expressed deep concern over the drafts of the Digital Security Act and the National Online Mass Media Guideline, placing three recommendations to ensure freedom of expression and the press.
Newspaper editors, under the platform, said they are worried about the Section 19 of the draft law that contains the provisions of Section 57 of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, says a press release.
They made the comments in a meeting chaired by Dainik Samakal Editor Golam Sarwar in Dhaka on Thursday, where The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam, Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman and Bangladesh Pratidin Nayeem Nizam, among others, were present.
Despite the law minister saying that the Section 57 will be withdrawn from the ICT Act, the provisions of the section are being inserted rather strongly into the Section 19 of the Digital Security Act
Despite the law minister saying that the Section 57 will be withdrawn from the ICT Act, the provisions of the section are being inserted rather strongly into the Section 19 of the draft law, they said.
Terming the Section 57 contradictory to the Constitution, they urged the government to remove it completely and not to restore it in any other law.
According to them, the Section 15(5) will appears as yet another major barrier for free thinking and freedom of expression because it will consider a crime any statement on the history of Liberation War and its related issues that opposes the government’s statement on these subjects.
They urged the government to analyse and amend the draft law to help hold a fruitful discussion on the country’s history.
The editors also raised their eyebrows on the draft National Online Mass Media Guideline as it too includes the Section 57 and other sections of the ICT Act.
The guideline also has the provision of considering the so called defamation of any human or organisation as a criminal offence, which they demanded to be removed from the draft.
They suggested that the government make it mandatory to send such a matter to Bangladesh Press Council first before taking any action on such criminal charges.
There should be certain limits in claiming damages under any civil case, they recommended.
They also criticised the cases filed against the journalists belonging to the platform, demanding neutral probe of the lawsuits and trail of the people behind their harassment.
The editors called for immediate withdrawal of all the false cases filed against their colleagues by public servants and ruling party men across the country.
They also demanded the speedy withdrawal of the cases filed under the Section 57 against journalists.