Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Anisul Huq said Section 57 of the ICT act will be scrapped.
The law minister said at an award ceremony on Tuesday that a new digital security law was in the works.
He said: “The new Digital Security Act will clarify what section 57 is supposed to represent. It will for once and for all prove that our government has no intentions to clamp down on freedom of speech.
“The law ministry is working on vetting the new Digital Security Act draft. We will collaborate with several state ministers to work on a revised draft to introduce it as a bill.”
The minister was speaking at the Bazlur Rahman Bhaiya Memorial Award Ceremony on the 65th anniversary of “Khelaghor” – a children’s organisation – at Bangladesh Shilpokola Academy.
Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act stipulates that any post, image, or video on an electronic format that “causes to deteriorate law and order, prejudice the image of the state or person or hurt religious beliefs” are non-bailable offences. The punishment is a minimum seven years in prison up to a maximum of 14 years. The fines can go up to Tk1 crore.
Numerous journalists and students and teachers have been imprisoned under Section 57 of the ICT act, which led to numerous civic leaders and journalists to speak out against it. The act has been called draconian in its implementation and criticised for how it can be interpreted by law enforcement agencies.
Despite numerous protests and appeals, ministers and government officials have defended it.
The law was introduced in 2006 by the BNP government and established in 2013 by Awami League.