Amnesty International has urged the government to drop the case -- under Digital Security Act -- against Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, editor-in-chief of Bangla daily Manabzamin, and 31 others.
"We call on the government to maintain restraint on further actions against the Manabzamin editor and 31 others and drop the case filed against them immediately," Amnesty International said in a statement issued soon after the case was filed yesterday.
The case is a glaring example of how the law is being arbitrarily used against people by influential quarters and state agencies including the police, the statement claimed.
"We are alarmed by the vague and overly-broad provisions within the Digital Security Act and the rigorous punishment that they entail for legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression," it said.
Bangladesh must decriminalise defamation and review the legislation so that it is in compliance with international human rights law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bangladesh is a state party, it added.
According to the statement, nearly 400 cases have been filed under the Digital Security Act at the cybercrime tribunal in the first 11 months since the legislation has been passed at the Bangladesh parliament in October 2018. According to media reports, more than 200 cases have been dismissed for lacking sufficient evidence, it added.