Include special provision for journos, media
Leaders of a faction of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) yesterday recommended amending the proposed Digital Security Act, 2018 to incorporate a provision for forming a cell under Bangladesh Press Council.
They said the proposed law cannot be applied against journalists or media without prior approval from the cell.
There must be a special arrangement in the proposed law for using any of its provisions against journalists or media outlets. It cannot be used against them instantaneously. There will be a cell at Bangladesh Press Council and the complaints will be recorded there. The proposed law can be applied against any journalist or media outlet only after getting approval from the cell, the journalist leaders said.
A BFUJ team, led by its President Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, submitted a written proposal on the proposed legislation to Law Minister Anisul Huq during a meeting with him at his secretariat office yesterday.
Expressing concern over some sections of the proposed law, including the much talked about section 32, the BFUJ leaders demanded the government amend the legislation to remove its loopholes and vagueness.
The journalist leaders also made 10 observations about the formation of the cell under Bangladesh Press Council.
BFUJ Secretary General Omar Faruk, Treasurer Madhusudan Mondal and Executive Member Syed Ishtiak Reza were present at the meeting.
They raised objections about sections 21, 25, 28, 29 and 32 that deal with spying, deterioration in law and order, defamation, hurting religious sentiment, collecting aggressive information and data and the Liberation War or its spirit or campaign against the Father of the Nation.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Law Minister Anisul Huq said the BFUJ's demands were logical and the Editors' Council also made similar demands over the proposed Digital Security Act.
As the draft of the law was under consideration of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Posts, Telecommunications and ICT Ministry, talks would be held and decisions would be made there, he added.
The minister said a decision was taken on Sunday that the parliamentary committee would discuss the issue with Editors' Council, BFUJ and Association of Television Channel Owners late next month.
Replying to a question, Anisul said they would take steps to remove any confusion, if there was any, about the freedom of press in the proposed law.
Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul told reporters that they demanded the government ensure institutional protection to journalists and media outlets after the passage of the proposed bill by parliament.
He also said the BFUJ expressed concern over some sections of the proposed law and called upon the law minister to amend those.
Earlier on April 18, the minister assured the Editors' Council of removing loopholes and vagueness in the Digital Security Act through holding a meeting between the editors and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Posts, Telecommunications and ICT Ministry.
The Editors' Council, a platform of editors of 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 in the country.