ARTICLE 19 demands withdrawal of digital security case against Bangladesh editors
ARTICLE 19, a British human rights organisation, has condemned the case against bdnews24.com's Editor-in-Chief Toufique Imrose Khalidi and three others over a report on the alleged embezzlement of aid in Thakurgaon during the coronavirus crisis.
bdnews24.com on Apr 9 reported that the authorities had seized 562 sacks of rice allegedly embezzled from the government’s Tk 10 OMS programme for the poor in Thakurgaon’s Baliadangi.
A local leader of the ruling Awami League’s affiliate Swechchhasebak League subsequently started the case under Sections 25, 29 and 31 of the law that involve offences, such as publishing of offensive, false, defamatory or fear-inducing data or information.
Besides Khalidi, Jago News Acting Editor Mohiuddin Sarker and two others – Shaon Amin and Rahim Shubho – have also been named in the case.
“This is a new addition to the continuity of the cases filed against journalists and freedom of expression defenders by abusing the controversial Sections of the Digital Security Act, 2018,” Faruq Faisel, the regional director of ARTICLE 19 Bangladesh and South Asia, said in the statement.
“The case is filed in such a crucial moment when the journalists are covering random corruptions happening every day during relief distribution in the remote areas of Bangladesh.
“Based on those reports, government officials are taking measures and precautions to stop the corruption. From that point of view, this case put the grassroots-level journalists into high risks while performing their professional responsibilities.”
“We observe with deepest concern that within one month, three cases have been filed in a similar pattern against the chief executives of three mass media agencies, which is unusual in the recent time,” Faisel added.
ARTICLE 19 has been raising its concern on different occasions about the Digital Security Act, 2018 being abused as a prime obstacle in Bangladesh to freedom of expression and to establishing a free mass media.