Digital Security Act can in no way be abolished: Law minister

Law minister Anisul HuqFile Photo

Law minister Anisul Huq has said that in order to prevent the misuse of the Digital Security Act, the law may be amended. However, there was need for the law. In no way can the law be abolished.

The law minister was speaking about the law Sunday morning after an event held at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) auditorium at Motijheel in the capital. He also replied to questions of journalists Sunday afternoon at his office in the secretariat.

After the event at the DCCI auditorium, journalists asked the law minister about the government’s thoughts concerning the Digital Security Act. He said, “There is no question about thinking anew about the Digital Security Act in light of the incident that took place three days ago. I have said that before and say that now. There had been some misuse in the past and, admitting that, we first talked to the United Nations Human Rights Commission about what changed could be brought about to it. The discussions are still on. They sent a technical note. We are examining it, scrutising it. Secondly, a method has been adopted so that journalists are not unnecessarily harassed. Thirdly, I had held discussions with civil society on 14 March about this law and listened to their views. I then told them I had something to say and that was supposed to be heard on 30 March. But it was postponed on the day before.”

The law minister said, “This discussion may be held mid-April and then the discussions will include the Digital Security Act, the Data Protection Act, and the Voluntary Funds for NGOs.”

Anisul Huq said, “After these discussions, if the misuse to which I referred can be prevented by certain clauses, we will do so. Or if the law needs to be amended, then the matter of amendment will be taken into consideration.” He said, “We have to accept this, or it is the reality, that there the Digital Security Act is necessary. There are such laws in many countries of the world.”

When asked about the court’s declining to hold the hearing for the Prothom Alo editor’s anticipatory bail, the law minister said, “I will not say anything about the judiciary. The matter is very sensitive. But previously we have seen instances where seven courts ‘felt embarrassed’ to hold the hearing of the Bangabandhu killing case.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the US state department have expressed concern about the case against journalist Samsuzzaman and his being picked up. When asked about the government’s stand on this, the law ministry said, “I do not want to comment on this issue. But even two days ago I had said, and still say, that this government did not file any case against the media or journalist. This government has lodged a case against wrongdoing. You will have to judge whether paying a child 10 taka, placing a placard in his hand, is belittling the country’s honour.”

‘Digital Security Act is extremely necessary’

Replying to journalist’s questions at the secretariat, the law minister said the Digital Security Act is extremely necessary to prevent cyber crimes. In no way can this law be abolished.

When journalists at the secretariat wanted to know about the case against the Prothom Alo editor under the Digital Security Act and also the journalist Samsuzzaman being arrested, he was unwilling to talk about the matter as it was under trial.

Inspector general of police (IGP) Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun held a meeting with the law minister at the secretariat Sunday morning. When the journalists, after the meeting, asked the IGP about the case lodged under the Digital Security Act against the Prothom Alo editor, the police chief said, “Wait and see.”