Srinagar, India-Bangladesh’s digital security law is accelerating the country’s decline in press freedom, and authorities have issued legislation to imprison journalists and others critical of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Local media and analysts say they are using it. In 2020 alone, the law was imposed on about 900 people, including a few
Srinagar, India-Bangladesh’s digital security law is accelerating the country’s decline in press freedom, and authorities have issued legislation to imprison journalists and others critical of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Local media and analysts say they are using it.
In 2020 alone, the law was imposed on about 900 people, including a few journalists. According to Amnesty International..
In an interview, Bangladesh’s Minister of Information Hasan Mahmud said the law was necessary to protect people online. However, human rights groups and local journalist associations said the Digital Security Act and May Other laws, including the Public Affairs Secrets Act, used to detain investigators, state that they are increasing pressure on journalism.
Dhaka-based freelance journalist Kamal Ahmed said the country was on a downhill track even before the widely criticized law was passed in 2018.
After the opposition boycotted in 2013, the space for critical journalism has shrunk, along with distrust of the election process, Ahmed said. Sheikh Hasina’s government has become more authoritarian and intolerant of criticism, causing persecution of dissenting and criticizing voices, he added.
According to Media Watchdog “Reporters Without Borders” According to the (RSF), the Hasina administration “has taken a remarkably strict attitude towards the media.” The RSF referred to prosecutions related to digital security law and pandemic coverage when it ranked Bangladesh 152 out of 180 in the Annual Press Freedom Index.
The Governance Research Center, an independent research group in Bangladesh, said: Digital security law is most used against opposition politicians, followed by journalists..
In a report in April, the group concluded that the law “excessively impacts journalists” and is an obstacle to press freedom. The data found that “ruling party activists and supporters could use the law to create horrific situations.”
Bangladesh San Padak Parish, or Editors’ Council, Was one of the groups that was against the law from the beginning. “Our horror is now a nightmare reality for the mass media,” the council said after the arrest of cartoonist Ahmed Kabil Kishore and writer Mustak Ahmed in May 2020.
Mustak Ahmed He was denied bail several times and died in prison on February 25.
His death and increased prosecution have led to calls for amendments to the law and better protection of press freedom.
Dozens of journalists who reported corruption and reported cases of food aid provided by poorer areas during the pandemic reported legal complaints from award-winning Dhaka-based journalists. Salem Samad said. “People who dared to criticize pandemic medical management were also prosecuted under oppression. [Digital Security Act]”Samad said.
The law spread self-censorship, especially among media gatekeepers, adding that the media lacked detailed articles on corruption and accountability of elected representatives and lawmakers.
Bangladesh’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting did not respond to VOA’s e-mail request for comment.
After the death of Mustak Ahmed Mahmud Information Minister He and the government said, “We are careful not to sacrifice journalists for misuse of this act.” Authorities also say they are reviewing the law to prevent misuse.
Digital security law isn’t the only law that media and analysts say is used to cover important press. Journalists may also be accused under the Incitement Act and the Official Secrets Act.
Samad directly experienced being detained for several months on charges of sedition while working on a documentary for the British Channel 4 Unreported World Series in November 2002. The case was finally shattered.
Recently, Prothom Alo newspaper reporter Rozina Islam 1923 Official Secrets ActFollowing a complaint filed by a Ministry of Health official.
Islam was charged with filming government documents in violation of law and criminal law. She was briefly detained at the Shahbagh police station in Dhaka on May 17, and could face up to 14 years in prison or death if convicted.
Prothom Alo’s editor-in-chief, Sajjad Sharif, told VOA that the court granted his reporters bail.
“She was currently hospitalized and receiving physiological treatment because she had been traumatized and harassed while in custody,” Sharif said.
Naman Agarwal, Global Digital Identity Lead and Asia Pacific Policy Advisor at Digital Rights Organization Access Now, said that both the Official Secrets Act and Digital Security Act are under the guise of protecting national and cybersecurity. He said he has given the government a wide range of powers to contain important remarks.
The government can remove content that it considers to be “fake, obscene, or slanderous” or offensive to national or religious sentiment, and prosecute people on an ambiguous basis, Agarwal said.
A Dhaka-based Bangladeshi reporter who spoke on condition of anonymity told VOA a few years ago that only a few politicians showed power or anger through the legal system, but nowadays Even senior officials said they were taking action. “Today, it’s very difficult to report corruption-related news,” the reporter said.
Mohammad Tauhidul Islam, a correspondent at Maasranga Television’s business desk, believes journalists are becoming more cautious. “Journalist maintains an undeclared line so as not to question senior government officials.” Islam said it had nothing to do with Protom Alo reporter Rosina Islam.
Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asian program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington-based research group, told VOA that pressure on the media was caused by Dhaka’s desire to control public stories. I believe. He said that recent authoritarian moves have included efforts to curb all forms of dissent, including dissent from political opponents and civil society.
In honor, Bangladesh’s media forces have been blaming loudly and frequently, and there is a risk of further crackdowns on the government, Kugelmann said.
“The Bangladeshi media is not hesitant to take a strong position for press freedom,” Kugelmann said. “In fact, agencies that monitor freedom of the press abroad are adding support and have been a leader in this effort.”
Source link According to analysts, the threat of legal action cools Bangladesh’s journalism