Speakers on Thursday recommend incorporating a safety clause for journalists in the proposed Digital Security Act in order to safeguard the freedoms of press and expression.
They made the call at a roundtable discussion on “Mass Media in Bangladesh and Digital Security Act: Threats and Way to Overcome It.”
The Dhaka University Mass Communication and Journalism Alumni Association (DUMCJAA) organized the event at the National Press Club to mark World Press Freedom Day.
In the case of investigative journalism, Section 32 of the act can be an obstacle as it includes a clause which states that “entering any government, semi-government and autonomous bodies office illegally and recording any information in electronic device' is a cognizable offence,” they said.
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In order to solve the issue, the speakers proposed incorporating a separate safety clause for journalists in the act, which would help safeguard their rights.
Voicing their concerns over the lack of clarity in such sections as 17,19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 34, and 36, the discussants also observed that Section 36 might be misused by certain quarters, as it allows law enforcers to arrest offenders without any warrant.
Addressing the event as chief guest, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said he would send the recommendations to the authorities concerned and take measures to make the proposed act a journalist-friendly one.
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Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique, former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, stressed repealing the controversial provisions and terminologies that could potentially be misused and hamper the freedom of the press.
Dr Sheikh Abdus Salam, a professor of mass communication and journalism at Dhaka University, presented the keynote paper at the program chaired by Farida Yasmin, senior vice-president of DUMCJAA and general secretary of National Press Club.