Foreign diplomats stationed in Dhaka on Sunday expressed their concern over four sections of the proposed Digital Security Act, including a provision of detaining citizens without a warrant from the court.
The diplomats from the US, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, France, Canada, Spain, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union ambassador in Dhaka conveyed their concerns to Law Minister Anisul Huq at his office saying the proposed act might curtail freedom of expression in multiple ways.
"They expressed concerns over Sections 21, 28, 32 and 25 of the proposed act, and we shared our opinion. Further discussions will be held as we will meet again soon," said Anisul after the meeting with the diplomats at the Secretariat in Dhaka.
The minister assured them that they would look into the matter and talk to the authorities concerned. "We will again come back to discuss it. We had a very, very fruitful discussion."
After the meeting, German Ambassador Thomas Prinz told reporters: "We are particularly alarmed about the rate of severe punishment for merely expressing a belief for opinion."
He said the proposed law was suggesting that it would suppress the freedom of expression in multiple ways.
The ambassador said the imprecise terminology could lead to misinterpretation of the law.
He referred to the non-availability of bail for the certain offences and the empowerment of the security agencies to detain citizens without a warrant issued by the court.
"These were the main complaints we have discussed with the minister. We are very grateful that at the end of the discussion the minister agreed to look into these," Prinz said.
He mentioned that the draft would go to the ministry concerned and the issue would be discussed with them again.
"We hope the freedom of expression in this country will prevail," he said adding that they also want to see that digital security was established and cybercrimes were prevented.
Meanwhile, about the appointment of British lawyer Lord Carlile as BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's counsel, Law Minister Anisul told reporters: "It's very deplorable as the lawyer also worked for war criminals."
Khaleda, a former prime minister, is currently in jail for five years after being convicted in a corruption case.