THE case filed against a senior reporter of Jamuna TV and four others under section 57 of The ICT Act, 2013 once again demonstrates that the said Act is a threat to freedom of expression. Earlier several right bodies and online activists termed the ICT (Amendment) Act, 2013 as a repressive law and expressed their concerns over the amendment.
Article 39 of our constitution guarantees fundamental rights of freedom of thought, conscience and speech. Besides the Right to Information Act, 2009 has also recognized freedom of expression as a fundamental right. Both Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR and Article 19(2) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognize freedom of expression as a fundamental right. This right is being violated by the act as before attempting to write anything in the social media or mainstream media one is always under the fear of being in trouble.
Freedom of speech is a core ingredient of a progressive society as it helps establish truth in society. Citizens of a democratic country do not directly dictate or decide on laws and public policies but have a say in framing the same by electing their representatives and interface with their representatives through different media. The Act referred to is stifling the freedom of social media and mass media in the name of cyber security.
We therefore urge upon the government to incorporate freedom of expression in the new Digital Security Act; otherwise the nation-state will lose its credibility.
Md. Khalid Hasan
Institute of Education & Research
University of Dhaka