The Sampadak Parishad will hold a press conference at noon tomorrow to reiterate its demand that the Digital Security Act be amended to protect freedom of speech, independent journalism and media institutions from the threat of police intervention and arbitrary arrest.
The decision was made at a meeting held yesterday at The Daily Star Centre, presided over by Tasmima Hossain, editor of Daily Ittefaq. At the meeting, the Sampadak Parishad (Editors' Council) reiterated that it accepts the need for strengthening cyber security through an appropriate legal framework but opposes some specific sections of the Digital Security Act, recently signed into law by the President, namely sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, 43 and 53.
After the meeting, the Parishad issued a statement where it said it :
1. Expresses deep disappointment that the specific promise made by three cabinet ministers and information adviser to prime minister about taking Sampadak Parishad's concerns to the cabinet and opening the process of discussions with all stakeholders to prepare an amended version of The Digital Security Act was not honoured;
2. Considers this to be a breach of trust that the Parishad had reposed, in good faith, on the commitment made by three senior cabinet ministers and information adviser to prime minister. It may be recalled that the meeting was held at the initiative of Information Minister, Hasanul Huq Inu who, while extending the invitation committed to opening a new series of discussions, a commitment that was supported by the law minister and the ICT minister in the meeting;
3. Demands that the Digital Security Act be amended, as specified above, in the next session of the present parliament which will be held in near future. We consider this to be a good opportunity to respond to the concerns of all journalists and citizens in general who consider the Digital Security Act as a serious threat to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
In the statement, the Parishad also stated that the Act is against:
1. Our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of press as guaranteed by the constitution under Article 39 (a) and (b);
2. The values of freedom, free speech and rights enshrined in the spirit of our Liberation War;
3. The fundamental norms of democracy, free society and fundamental rights guaranteed in the UN Charter and other international laws and instruments;
4. The core values of ethical and independent journalism.
The statement was sent by Tasmima Hossain, editor of Daily Ittefaq; Reazuddin Ahmed, founding editor of News Today; Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, editor of Manabzamin; Nurul Kabir, editor of New Age; Matiur Rahman, editor of Prothom Alo; Mahfuz Anam, editor of The Daily Star; Shyamal Dutta, editor of Bhorer Kagoj; Naem Nizam, editor of Bangladesh Pratidin; Imdadul Haq Milan, editor of Kaler Kantho; Alamgir Mohiuddin, editor of Naya Diganta; MA Malek, editor of Dainik Azadi; Md Mozammel Haque, editor of Karatoa; AMM Bahauddin, editor of Daily Inqilab; M Shamsur Rahman, editor of The Independent; Khandaker Muniruzzaman, acting editor of Sangbad; Saiful Alam, acting editor of Jugantor; Dewan Hanif Mahmud, editor of Bonik Barta; Zafar Sobhan, editor of Dhaka Tribune; Shahiduzzaman Khan, acting editor of The Financial Express; and Mustafiz Shafi, acting editor of Samakal.