Such circumstances affect the public’s trust and confidence in the rule of law
The death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed is perhaps a loss on more counts than one: Not only have we lost a writer, but we have with it also lost faith in the safeguarding of our rights and due process enshrined in our constitution.
At the root of both tragedies lies a single culprit: The Digital Security Act. The journalistic community has repeatedly stated the potential threat the DSA poses to Bangladeshi democracy, due to the fact that the language of the law provides too much room for interpretation and could result in instances of abuse of power, giving law enforcement agencies the right to arrest without a warrant or keep people imprisoned without trial.
Any such law which disregards the notion of due process, regardless of the vagueness of the law, should not be within any democratic nation’s legal purview.
Mushtaq, who had been critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic and had been arrested in May of last year for “spreading rumours and carrying out anti-government activities,” had been denied bail six times, with little to no indication of a trial or date of release.
By the time he was finally brought in front of a court a few weeks ago and officially charged by the police, his entire case hinged on 10 social media posts and links. When Mushtaq was brought to the hospital, he had already breathed his last.
Such circumstances affect the public’s trust and confidence in the rule of law, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. In order to ensure that the public’s faith is restored, Mushtaq’s death must be investigated, and any indication of foul play should be brought to the fore.
But with many others arrested in similar fashion with no hope for recourse, the main culprit, the DSA, must be addressed, because already there has been too much abuse of the law.