Certain sections of Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act are being used in areas beyond the prevention of IT-related crimes. As result, these particular sections of the law are creating a ‘risk’.
The European Union (EU) raised these concerning during diplomatic dialogue between EU and Bangladesh held on Tuesday at the Belgian capital Brussels. This was revealed in the joint statement at the conclusion of the fourth diplomatic dialogue between the two sides.
The Bangladesh delegation was led by foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen and the EU delegation by the European External Action Service Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific Gunnar Wiegand.
The joint statement said that democracy and human rights were shared values of Bangladesh and EU. In this regard, EU expressed concern regarding certain provisions of the Digital Security Act. It said some of these provisions risk going beyond the stated purpose of fighting digital crime. During the dialogue, EU requested Bangladesh for updates on certain ongoing trial being held under the Digital Security Act.
EU has long been raising objections to the excessive use and severity of the punishment under the Digital Security Act. They had even spoken of changes in certain sections of the act earlier. Bangladesh, as before, stated there was no scope to bring changes to the act
Earlier, in a periodic review of the state of human rights in member countries, the UN Human Rights Council had placed some recommendations before Bangladesh regarding the Digital Security Act. At the dialogue, the EU encouraged Bangladesh to implement these recommendations.
The Bangladesh side provided updates regarding the Digital Security Act and shared its perspectives in this regard. According to diplomatic sources, the EU has long been raising objections to the excessive use and severity of the punishment under the Digital Security Act. They had even spoken of changes in certain sections of the act earlier. Bangladesh, as before, stated there was no scope to bring changes to the act. However, Bangladesh was cautious against the misuse of this law.
The EU presented its new strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Both sides discussed the political and security situation in the region, including in Myanmar and Afghanistan, maritime security, as well as counter-terrorism and cooperation.
In the context of the ongoing implementation of the mechanism under Article 25a of the Visa Code, the EU welcomed the progress that Bangladesh has demonstrated in implementing the Standard Operating Procedures for the identification and return of persons without an authorisation to stay. The EU urged Bangladesh to continue its commitment and demonstrate further concrete results, including on clearing the backlog of cases, and meeting the commitments. Bangladesh proposed that the EU look at opportunities to widen legal pathways for migration by creating employment for skilled and semi-skilled workforce from Bangladesh.
The EU commended Bangladesh for the finalisation and publication of its National Action Plan in the labour sector and stressed the need for its comprehensive implementation as per the stipulated timelines. Bangladesh reiterated the need for ensuring fair prices, especially in view of the investments being made in safer and greener factories.
The EU reiterated its appreciation for the generous role and action of the people and government of Bangladesh for continuing to temporarily host a million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar for more than four years. The Bangladesh side thanked the EU for its political and humanitarian support in the aftermath of the crisis. Both sides stressed the need for voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingyas to Myanmar.