The Financial Express

Editors' Council rejects JS body report on draft Digital Security Act

| Updated: September 17, 2018 12:54:00

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The Sampadak Parishad (Editors' Council) has rejected a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Posts, Telecommunication and ICT on the draft 'Digital Security Act.

It has also expressed its surprise and disappointment over the report of the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) committee, released to the press on September 11.

The report totally ignored the protests and concerns expressed by journalists and media organisations, said the Sampadak Parishad in a statement on Sunday.

"We are forced to reject the said report as it suggested no fundamental changes to sections 8,21,25,28,29,31,32, and 43 of the Draft Act that pose serious threats to freedom of expression and media operation," it said in the statement.

The Sampadak Parishad issued the statement following its meeting held on at the Daily Star Centre in the city on the day.

It welcomed inclusion of the Right to Information Act (RTI) under Section 3.

But the Parishad expressed its concern over inclusion of the colonial-era 'Official Secrets Act' that, according to it, is in clear contradiction to the RTI.

The Parishad rejected the JS body report and the draft Digital Act mainly because it is contrary to the freedom of expression and freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution in Articles 39(2) A and B, and also contrary to the idea of freedom of thoughts and independence of media and it goes against the spirit of the Liberation War.

Moreover, the proposed law is opposed to the basic practice of democracy that Bangladesh has always fought and stood for and the fundamental principles of journalism and freedom of the media that journalists in Bangladesh struggled for, said the statement.

It also mentioned that the Sampadak Parishad had a meeting with the law minister in the presence of the ICT minister during which both ministers assured them of taking measures to mitigate their concerns.

"We also recall with gratitude that the aforementioned JS (Jatiya Sangsad) Standing Committee met with the representatives of Sampadak Parishad, BFUJ (Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists) and ATCO (Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO) over two sittings during which the both showed how the draft law stifles media freedom, a prerequisite for any democracy.

"The JS committee was supposed to meet with us once more before finalising its report but the meeting never took place," it said.

Considering the overall situation, the Parishad urged parliament, which is the House of the People and the repository of people's aspiration for all sorts of freedom not to pass this draft Digital Security Act.

If passed, the law will gravely affect journalistic freedom and seriously curtail democracy in Bangladesh, it added.

The statement was made by Founding Editor of the News Today Reazuddin Ahmed, Manabzamin Editor Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman, New Age Editor Nurul Kabir, Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam, Naya Diganta Editor Alamgir Mohiuddin, Acting Editor of The Financial Express Shahiduzzaman Khan, Bhorer Kagoj Editor Shyamal Dutta, Kaler Kantho Editor Imdadul Haq Milan, Bangladesh Pratidin Editor Naem Nizam, Inqilab Editor AMM Bahauddin, Dainik Azadi Editor M. A Malek, Karatoa Editor Md. Mozammel Haque, Independent Editor M Shamsur Rahman, Acting Editor of Sangbad Khandaker Muniruzzaman, Acting Editor of Jugantor Saiful Alam, Bonik Barta Editor Dewan Hanif Mahmud, Dhaka Tribune Editor Zafar Sobhan and Acting Editor of Samakal Mustafiz Shafi.

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