Digital Security Act: Editors’ Council worried over cases against journos, writer
The Sampadak Parishad circulated a statement yesterday expressing deep concern and worry at the prosecutions of journalists, a cartoonist and a writer under the Digital Security Act (DSA).
They were prosecuted and several of them were arrested "on flimsy and unsubstantiated ground", read the statement signed by Mahfuz Anam, president of the organisation and the editor of The Daily Star, and Naem Nizam, secretary-general and the editor of the daily Bangladesh Pratidin.
"No concern is being shown as to the merit of complaints before making arrests. Reasons such as 'tarnishing the image', 'spreading rumour' or 'criticising the government' appear sufficient to put journalists behind bars," observed the statement adding that any complaint under DSA almost automatically leads to arrests.
Mentioning the arrest and imprisonment of photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol, the statement observed that "simple criticism of law makers, district administrations and people in power are behind most of the recent cases."
"Lawmakers traditionally always stood for free media and freedom of thought and critical thinking. Regrettably a few of them are now a part of the current DSA-led onslaught against the media. Clear preference of filing cases under DSA instead of existing defamation laws indicates a desire to intimidate and harass journalists rather than seek justice," said the statement.
It pressed the point that the media's duty is to expose corruption and irregularities and point out the failures of the administration. "This is all more necessary when thousands of crores of taka are being spent by the government to fight the pandemic and its disastrous consequences," it added.
The Parishad had always opposed the Act, citing fears that it can be used as a weapon to suppress freedom of the media. "Our fear is now a nightmare-reality for the mass media," said the statement.
"We consider the recent suing and arrest of journalists as clear threats to freedom of press and freedom of expression. We demand immediate release of all journalists and withdrawal of all cases against them. We condemn the frequent and indiscriminate use of DSA against the media and common citizens and demand that the Act be repealed," concluded the statement.