Dhaka – President Abdul Hamid has signed the much-talked about Digital Security Bill to turn it into a law amid widespread criticism that the law might obstruct the people’s right to freedom of speech.
A Bangabhaban presidential palace spokesman, Joynal Abedin, on Monday confirmed the presidential assent to the bill, which was passed by voice vote parliament on September 20.
Bangladeshi journalists and human rights activists expressed concern soon after the bill was passed in parliament. The editors’ council is waiting to hold meeting with the information minister to request the government to revise the law.
But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a press conference on October 4 defended the law saying those who are dealing with truth have nothing to worry about. She feared that a section of people are poised to launch propaganda against her government and the country as well.
She said the law was passed to try those involved in cyber crimes.
The law replaces a previous Information Communication Technology law under which many journalists and activists have been sued for defamation. Section 57 of the ICT Act was widely abused.
Journalists in Nepal are combating a similar law that was passed in August.
Bangladesh’s Editors’ Council in a statement, say they were surprised to see there was no fundamental changes to sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the draft act that poses serious threats to freedom of expression and media operation.
Opposition political parties have also rejected the law. In a statement on Monday, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, said that they would not comply the law passed by ‘an illegal government’.