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Dhaka Tribune

CPJ: Blatant use of DSA to silence critical reporting alarming

Charge-sheets against Kajal, Mushtaq, Kishore worry CPJ

Update : 09 Feb 2021, 11:51 PM

Reacting to the pressing of charges in separate Digital Security Act cases against photographer Shafiqul Islam Kajol, writer Mushtaq Ahmed and cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, the Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed its concerns.

In a statement on Tuesday, the organisation quoted its Senior Asia Researcher Aliya Iftikhar as saying: “We are extremely alarmed by Bangladeshi authorities’ continuous and blatant abuse of the Digital Security Act in an effort to silence any critical reporting in the country.”

“Authorities should immediately drop the charges against Shafiqul Islam Kajol, Kabir Kishore, and Mushtaq Ahmed, and release Kishore and Ahmed from prison.”

Police charged Kishore, Mushtaq and Rashtrochinta activist Didarul Islam Bhuiyan on February 4, and Shafiqul Islam Kajol on Monday. 

Kishore and Mushtaq have been jailed since May 2020, according to CPJ research; Kajol was released on December 25 after being incarcerated for nine months on December 25, 2020, the statement reads.


Also Read - Charges pressed against cartoonist Kishore, two others in DSA case


The authorities allege that Kishore and Ahmed violated the act by publishing propaganda, false or offensive information and information that could destroy communal harmony and create unrest, according to police documents reviewed by CPJ. If convicted under the law, they could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to Tk10,000,000 (US$118,000), the statement further says.

A complaint filed last year alleges that Kajol violated the act by criticizing political leaders and spreading false information on his personal Facebook page, according to CPJ research on his case. 

According to the authorities, Kajol published false or offensive information, published or transmitted defamatory information, and made unauthorized use of identity information, according to the text of the law and court documents reviewed by CPJ. 

If convicted, he could face three years in prison each for the charges of publishing false or offensive information and transmitting defamatory information, and up to five years in prison for the charge of unauthorized use of identity information, as well as a fine of Tk300,000-500,000 taka (US$3,500-$6,000), set at the discretion of a judge.

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