Human Rights Forum Bangladesh, a platform of 19 NGOs, yesterday reiterated that some provisions in ICT (amendment) act were a threat to the existing human rights related laws and policies, particularly to the freedom of the press and citizens’ right to express opinion.

In a written statement signed by Sultana Kamal, the forum’s convener and a rights activist, the forum urged the government to make necessary amendments to the act through comprehensive discussions.

Referring to sections 54, 55, 57 and 61 under the act, the forum observed that there was a strong possibility of the misuse of these provisions for political and other motives.
There is no specific direction of which actions will be brought into cognisance using section 57 which includes some actions namely false, obscene, derogatory, instigating, tarnishing the state’s image or hurting religious sentiment.

The ambiguities of these words must sanction the misuse of this act, the forum fears. As these actions were made non-bail-able under the section 57, these will breach the citizen’s rights seriously.

At the moment, the trials in cases against Odhikar secretary and director, Bangla daily Amar Desh editor, four bloggers and three journalists of the Inqilab are going on.

The forum urged the government to ensure transparency and impartiality of the trial process of these running cases filed under the act. Despite concerns and criticisms from rights organisations, civil society members and the media, the government enacted the ICT Act (Amendment) 2013 October 5 last year.

Source: The Daily Star – 27.01.2014 – http://www.thedailystar.net/city/some-provisions-threat-to-freedom-of-expresion-8678