Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed its solidarity with ‘the strong show of opposition’ to new Digital Security Act, from the editors of the leading newspapers in Bangladesh.
“We fully support the Bangladeshi journalists combatting a law whose provisions as regards press freedom are utterly absurd,” RSF Asia-Pacific desk head Daniel Bastard said in a statement.
He argued, the Act in its present form poses major threats to the press freedom, which he called one of the cornerstones of Bangladesh’s democracy. The law with ambiguous wording is said to be suppressing the confidentiality of sources, banning coverage of public officials.
“With two months to go to a general election, we urge parliamentarians to ensure that amending this law is one of the election campaign’s central issues,” said Daniel Bastard.
The editors of 16 Bangladeshi newspapers formed a human chain outside the National Press Club in Dhaka on Monday rejecting certain provisions of the new law.
Their platform, Editors’ Council demanded amendment to sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, 43 and 53 of the law enacted last month.
RSF earlier in January warned the authorities about its deep flaws and urged them to scrap the most draconian provisions.
It also said the Digital Security Act was ‘intended to replace the notorious and controversial section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, which the government has used to silence dissent.’
According to the RSF statement, the latest victim of such act is Shahidul Alam, a well-known photojournalist who has been languishing in prison since 5 August for posting a video on Facebook showing the scale of the student protests taking place in Dhaka at the time, during which journalists were attacked by pro-government activists.
Bangladesh has been ranked 146th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.