Information minister rejects Amnesty Intl’s statement on Digital Security Act
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud today rejected Amnesty International's statement over the Digital Security Act saying the statement of the human rights organisation is "motivated".
Talking to reporters at his residence in the capital, the minister also said, Amnesty International has lost its acceptability.
"Amnesty International has been issuing statements against Bangladesh and its government one after another," Hasan, also Awami League's joint general secretary, said when reporters asked him about Amnesty International's statement.
Amnesty International on Sunday in a statement said it has found a concerning pattern in which the Bangladeshi authorities are weaponising sections 25, 29 and 31 of the Digital Security Act to target and harass critical voices.
The cyber tribunal based in Dhaka, which holds trials of cybercrimes including cases filed under the DSA, has received 199 cases between January 1 and May 6 this year.
Amnesty International has found 134 of those cases that clearly specified the sections under the DSA. Eighty percent of those cases (or 107 out of 134) were filed under both sections 25 and 29 of the DSA, it said in a statement on its website on Sunday.
Section 25 refers to the transmission, publication, etc of offensive, false or threatening data or information, section 29 pertains to the publication, transmission, etc. of defamatory information and section 31 criminalises a person for deteriorating law and order.
"The way in which defamation is criminalised under the DSA shows the serious shortcomings of a criminal approach to defamation, where the law has been further instrumentalised to silence dissent," the statement said.
Amnesty International called on the Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that defamation was treated as a matter for civil litigation, not criminal, the statement said.
Hasan Mahmud today said Amnesty International didn't issue any statement when hundreds of people were killed by petrol bombs in Bangladesh. They had also issued statements in favour of war criminals.
The minister added: "Even, they remained silent when people were killed like birds in Palestine. In fact, the acceptability of the organization has been lost."
He said the DSA was enacted for ensuring security of the people of the country.
"The act is for all, including housewives, farmers, rickshaw pullers, officials and journalists."
He said there was no need of the act when the issue of digital system did not exist. But currently the act is needed to ensure digital security of people to save them from harassment on digital platforms as anyone can take shelter under the act, he added.
The minister said such an act exists not only in Bangladesh but in many countries including neighbouring India and Pakistan, Singapore, Australia and many of the countries of European Union.