Bangladesh Law Minister Anisul Huq has said that the government will recognize the eight points raised by the country’s journalists and work upon the redrafting of Digital Security Bill, with specific definitions of the terms, as well as necessary additions and deletions.
For the uninitiated, the bill on the Digital Security Act is currently under scrutiny with the parliamentary standing committee on post, telecoms and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ministry.
The law minister’s statement came after a meeting with the Editors’ Council, Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO), Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Post, Telecommunications and ICT ministry at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban in Dhaka.
The participants in the meeting, including ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar, strongly opposed the bill. According to them, if enacted, the bill would gag free media and the freedom of speech. Reassuring the participants of the meeting, the law minster said, “We will finalise the draft after once again sitting with the representatives of mass media and then place it before parliament for passage.”
He added, “We want to enact the law for the country not for any certain individual. We are not enacting any law obstructing journalism or targeting journalists. We cannot enact any law against the freedom of the press as per constitutional provision.”
ATCO President and Chairman of Independent Television Salman F Rahman, who was among the media representatives present at the meeting, said that they have informed the authorities concerned about the cons of the law.
“We are worried about some sections of the law. We have informed the authorities concerned about our concerns. The (parliamentary standing) committee has assured us that they would consider our issues. The committee will place the Digital Security Bill before parliament after bringing necessary amendments,” said Salman F Rahman.
Mahfuz Anam, Editor of The Daily Star and Secretary of the Editors’ council, said that the council has presented strong opposition to eight sections of the draft law. He seemed satisfied now that the parliamentary committee has accepted the Council’s proposal.
“The Editors’ Council would do everything possible and ensure that rights of the journalists would not be hampered by the law,” Anam said in response to a query raised by one of the media correspondents.