Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister advocate Anisul Huq on Monday reiterated that the Digital Security Act, 2018 was not aimed at repressing freedom of speech or freedom of the press.
The minister said those at an event ‘Shaping of third sector-law and policies’ in the capital’s Hotel Sonargaon on Monday, reports news agency UNB.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and Counterpart International jointly organised the event on the occasion of the submission of some recommendations by civil society for the amendment of two acts in particular: The Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Ordinance-2016 and DSA-2018.
The recommendations were put forward for discussion at the day’s event.
“There was the need for a law to recognise some crimes being committed through digitalisation and advanced computerisation,” the law minister said, adding that no one can say, and no one has ever said the DSA was unnecessary.
Many file cases under the DSA from the tendency of implicating and landing someone in jail for a few days
He also noted that the Law Ministry is not the line ministry for the DSA, hence he wasn’t privy to how much stakeholder discussion or engagement took place during the drafting stage.
“I don’t know what discussions were held with the stakeholders when the act was being drafted,” he said.
Acknowledging the misuse and abuse of the Digital Security Act, the law minister said: “It is sad but true that I saw many misuses and abuses of the act after its enactment.”
“Many file cases under the DSA from the tendency of implicating and landing someone in jail for a few days,” Huq said, touching on one of the ways of misuse.
The process to introduce amendments to any act, to the law, must not rely on random demands, and must exhaust the options of delivering better results through changes in the rules
Going forward, the law minister said no case filed under the DSA would be accepted until a cell formed for verifying the allegations accepts its validity.
He also said the process to introduce amendments to any act, to the law, must not rely on random demands, and must exhaust the options of delivering better results through changes in the rules. Only then should it proceed to an amendment. That process is now underway in the matter of DSA, he added.
“We will sit with you all to discuss the DSA, it will be better if we sit once before the Ramadan,” Huq said.
TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) executive director Shaheen Anam, Dhaka University’s professor CR Abrar and lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua, among others, were present at the event.