Free journalist Shams, repeal DSA: TIB30 March 2023
UNB, Dhaka :
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has demanded release of journalist Shamsuzzaman Shams and scrapping the Digital Security Act.
“TIB has demanded unconditional release of journalist Shams and immediate repeal of the Digital Security Act, respecting the democratic system,” said a statement sent to the media on Thursday.
The international non-government organisation strongly condemned the arrest of daily Prothom Alo’s journalist Shamsuzzaman Shams from his residence late at night and producing him before the court after 30 hours of his detention by showing him arrested under the Digital Security Act.
The TIB thinks that this incident has violated the constitutional right like security of life of a journalist and a citizen of the country. “It has also set a terrible example of controlling and if necessary punishing the media,” it said.
About producing Shams after 30 hours of his detention , TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said "Shams' constitutional rights, both as a journalist and as a citizen, have grossly been violated. Because if a person is lawfully detained, there is an obligation under the existing law to produce the person before the court within 24 hours of detention. But the law enforcement agencies have clearly failed to do so.”
Even, the case in which he was taken to the court was filed more than 20 hours after he was picked up, he said.
The TIB Executive Director said if there are wrong or inconsistencies in any report published in the media, anyone can be aggrieved. But there is the Press Council Act to redress it and also there is scope to take steps as per the existing laws.
Showing a reporter directly arrested under the non-bailable provisions of the Digital Security Act by ignoring the Press Council Act makes clear the government's intention to control the media and punish critical or dissenting voices, which is tantamount to snatching media freedom, he said.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the editor of the daily and an assistant cameraman were also sued in the same case filed under the sections 25 (2), 31 and 35 of the DSA. But the section 31 is a non-bailable provision.
He said there is evidence that these sections are being used arbitrarily as a tool to silence dissenting voices from various professions, particularly journalists. In the last two days, two more journalists were sued under the Digital Security Act.
The TIB has always raised concerns and objections about various sections of the Act since its enactment, he added.