Law Minister assures changes to Digital Security Bill

Law Minister assures changes to Digital Security Bill

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Dhaka, April 23 – Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday assured that necessary step would be taken to bring changes in order to removing any confusion over the freedom of press if there is any in the proposed Digital Security Bill, 2018.“We believe in democracy and we’ll do everything for the freedom of the media. The Act will be amended where it is necessary after discussion with the representatives of all organisations who have proposed for amending the act,” the law minister came up with the assurance while talking to reporters after a meeting with leaders of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) at the Secretariat.
The draft of the proposed law is now under consideration of the Parliamentary Standing Committee. In its meeting held on Sunday the parliamentary standing committee has decided to hold discussions with the Editors’ Council, BFUJ and Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO) on this issue at the last phase in May this year, the law minister informed.
After the discussion, the parliamentary watchdog will take final decision over the amendment, if needed, the minister said.
Replying to a question, the minister said. “Of course, I think their proposals (for changes) are logical and I have said it before.”
President of a faction of BFUJ Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, said “We have submit a written opinion regarding the Act to the Minister today. In the written proposal we have ten observations and one specific proposal.”
“Earlier, we have placed our proposals to the Speaker of the parliament and she advised us to discuss the matter with the Law Minister,” said Bulbul.
During the meeting, the BFUJ leaders recommended amendment to the proposed Digital Security Act, incorporating a provision for forming a cell under the Bangladesh Press Council saying that this law cannot be applied for journalists or media without approval from this cell.
“There must be a special measure for using any provision of this law for the journalist or media and it cannot be instantly used for them. There will be a cell for Bangladesh Press Council where the allegations will be recorded. This law can be applied against any journalist or media only after getting approval from this cell. This law cannot be applied for journalists or media without approval from this cell,” BFUJ said in the proposal.
In the proposal the BFUJ leaders also made 10 observations about the proposed law alongside the “specific proposal” for formation of the cell under the Bangladesh Press Council.
The BFUJ proposed to bring amendment in the sections 21, 25, 28, 29, 31 and 32 so that the freedom of express would not be hampered.
BFUJ’s Secretary General Omar Faruk, Treasurer Madhusudan Mondal and Executive Member Syed Ishtiak Reza were present at the meeting.
Earlier on April 18 when the Editors’ Council met the law minister the latter assured the editors of removing loopholes and vagueness in the Digital Security Act through the editors’ meeting with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Post, Telecom and ICT.
Editors’ Council, an organisation of editors of the country’s national dailies, expressed grave concern over section 21, 25, 28, 31, 32, and 43 of the proposed law. It said the sections would greatly hamper freedom of speech and independent journalism.
On January 29, the government had approved the much-talked-about draft of the “Digital Security Act-2018”, incorporating some provisions that would go against freedom of expression.
Soon after approval of the law, the Editors’ Council and rights bodies demanded removal of some controversial provisions, saying that investigative journalism would stop if the law was passed without removing some of the provisions.
On April 9, the government placed the Digital Security Bill-2018 before the House, with a view to ensuring digital security, combating digital crime and punishing offenders.
Telecom and ICT minister Mustafa Jabbar placed the bill before Parliament, with Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair. The House sent the bill to the parliamentary standing committee concerned for further scrutiny, asking it to report back within four weeks. – Staff Reporter

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