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President signs Digital Security Bill into law

October 09, 2018 00:00:00

President Md Abdul Hamid has signed the Digital Security Bill 2018 into law amid objections from several media and rights organisations, report agencies.

The president's Press Secretary Md Joynal Adedin confirmed the signing on Monday.

Usually a bill is considered as a law after the approval of the President. Accordingly, the government will publish a gazette now enacting the bill into a law.

Several media organisations objected to numerous sections of the new law soon after the draft was made available.

The parliament passed the bill on September 19, ignoring the protests.

Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International's (TI) Bangladesh chapter slammed the move in an immediate reaction.

"We are very disappointed," TI Bangladesh spokesman Sheikh Manjur E Alam said.

"But we firmly want to believe it won't be used or abused before the government has a discussion as was promised about the amendment of the law," he said.

Hundreds of journalists have staged demonstrations against the law in recent days and editors have said the law poses serious threats to freedom of expression and media in the country.

The 22nd session of the 10th parliament, which was prorogued on September 20, passed a total of 18 bills, including the Digital Security Bill 2018 and Road Transport Bill 2018.

The 'Digital Security Bill, 2018' was passed in Parliament to deal with cybercrimes, including hurting the religious sentiment, negative propaganda against the Liberation War and Bangabandhu, and illegal activities in e-transactions and spreading defamatory data.

Voicing its deep regret at the passage, which it considers to be used against the freedom guaranteed by the constitution, media freedom and freedom of speech, the Editors' Council at a meeting on September 22 decided to stage a human chain on September 29 in front of the Jatiya Press Club.

Urging the Editors' Council to postpone its human-chain programme, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu invited the editors to sit with him and others. After a meeting with the Editors' Council on September 30 Law Minister Anisul Huq said Editors' Council's objections to nine sections of the 'Digital Security Bill' and its demand for amending those would be placed before the Cabinet for discussions.

Besides, BNP urged the people from all walks of life to put up a strong resistance against the Digital Security Bill, 2018 terming it a dangerous 'black' law.

Hours after the disclosure that President Abdul Hamid signed the Digital Security Bill, BNP on Monday announced it would not accept such a 'black' law.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina defended the law saying that there is nothing to be worried about the Digital Security Bill 2018 as it would not gag the voice of the journalist community.

"I've seen several noted editors, journalists and wise persons of society giving their opinions against it. They're only concerned about whether their voice is gagged. But their voice has not been gagged," she said while delivering the valedictory speech of the 22nd session of the 10th parliament on September 20.

Addressing a press conference on October 01, the Prime Minister said the journalists who do not provide false news need not to be worried over the upcoming law.

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