Digital Security Act: Govt to ensure no arrest before probe | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 03, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:12 AM, March 03, 2021

Digital Security Act: Govt to ensure no arrest before probe

Says law minister

The government is taking measures to ensure that no one is arrested or sued under the Digital Security Act (DSA) before investigation, Law Minister Anisul Huq has said.

"We are thinking about incorporating a provision in the Digital Security Act so that no case is filed and none can be arrested under this law before an inquiry into the allegations is conducted," he told The Daily Star last night.

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"I have been engaged with the office of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva for the last few months for sharing information regarding the best practices of the Digital Security Act all over the world. I will engage in a dialogue on the same issue next week. I have a plan to form a monitoring team so that there can be no scope to abuse the law."

Voices against the controversial DSA have grown even louder after the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed, who died in Kashimpur High-Security Jail-3 in Gazipur on Thursday.

The government is trying to make a decision to ensure no one is arrested prior to investigation, the minister said.

Asked about bail under the act, the law minister said the government has prepared a set of rules regarding when to provide bail and when not to.

About the misuse of law, Huq said they are taking measures to stop it.

He, however, said the DSA is a "very necessary law" as it has been formulated in order to give protection to the people and state from digital offences, and therefore, there is no question of repealing it.

The minister did not make any comment when queried whether the government will take any measure so that the accused people arrested under the Digital Security Act can easily secure bail from court.

Right after the law minister's made similar comments on another media outlet on Monday, a man was sent to jail in a case under the DSA in Dinajpur, an accused under the act was denied bail in Khulna and journalists formed a human chain in the capital demanding the amendment of the controversial act.

Police arrested Kalidas Dutta, 30, son of Shree Subal Dutta, of Phulbari Upazila in Dinajpur that same night for allegedly spreading fabricated information with ill intentions through a fake Facebook account.

Fakhrul Islam, OC of Phulbari Police Station, said the accused was sent to Dinajpur jail, after he was produced before a local court yesterday afternoon.

Police said two cases have been filed with the station against Kalidas on February 21.

Abul Basar Md Moshiuzzaman Reza and Kazim Uddin of the Uttar Sujalpur village separately filed cases against Kalidas for spreading fabricated information, for which they have been facing social humiliation.

The Daily Star could not independently verify the allegations.

Meanwhile, a Khulna court yesterday rejected the bail petition of Ruhul Amin, coordinator of Krishak-Sramik-Jantata Oikya Parishad.

Atiqul Islam, of Khulna Metropolitan Magistrate Court-4, rejected the bail prayers, said Ruhul's lawyer Begum Akhter Jahan.

Police picked up Ruhul from a mess in Khulna city's Goalkhali on February 26 and showed him arrested under the DSA. Police also detained Niaz Murshid Dolon, convener of the organisation, from there but released him on Saturday night.

Journalists, under the banner "general journalists", yesterday formed a human chain at Karwan Bazar and demanded that a DSA amendment committee be formed and the judicial commission stop the misuse of the act immediately.

They also demanded the arrest of the killers of journalist Borhan Uddin Muzakkir, who was critically wounded in a clash between supporters of Basurhat municipality Mayor Abdul Quader Mirza and former upazila chairman Mizanur Rahman Badal in Companiganj on February 19.

He died while undergoing treatment at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital around 11:00pm on February 20.

Akhtaruzzaman, former joint secretary of Dhaka Union of Journalists, said they expressed concern when the DSA was in its formative stage, fearing that it might be used as a tool to harass journalists.

The Editors' Council had also demanded necessary amendments before enacting the law, but the act was passed in parliament without considering their recommendations, he said.

The concern of the Editors' Council has become true as the journalist community is now afraid of even posting something on social media thinking that they might be arrested and harassed under the DSA, Akhter said.

Several ministers and top government officials -- including Law Minister Anisul Huq -- had assured journalists on different occasions that the loopholes and vagueness of the law would be removed.

That, however, is yet to happen.

A study of Article 19, UK-based rights organization, 457 people of all professions were prosecuted and arrested in 198 cases filed under the Digital Security Act last year.

Of them, 75 were journalists, while others included teachers, students, folk musicians, cultural activists and artistes.

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