Law Minister Anisul asks prosecutors to tread carefully in Digital Security Act cases

Law Minister Anisul Huq meets journalists at Dhaka Reporters Unity on Sunday, Oct 10, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove
Law Minister Anisul Huq has asked public prosecutors and government pleaders to carefully review the charges before making any move in cases under the Digital Security Act.

“First of all, check whether the charges in a case can actually be brought under the Digital Security Act. If it is not [actually a case under the Act], please take steps accordingly,” he said in a meeting with the lawyers at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka on Saturday.

He said he had discussed the issue with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and asked him to take measures to stop the practice of immediately arresting suspects after charges are brought under the act.

“If the charges are established or the court thinks it is a heinous act, it should take steps accordingly. If it thinks issuing summons is enough, it will issue summons,” Anisul said.

“But I won’t accept that the Digital Security Act will be a lost cause.”

Parliament passed the Act in September 2018 amid widespread objection by journalists, lawyers, intellectuals and international rights groups.

The law has since been abused against journalists in many cases, activists and journalists allege.

Anisul said the Act was passed to tackle cyber crimes, not to curb the media’s freedom.

He recalled he had sat with experts from the United Nation’s human rights body in 2019 amid protests against the Act to find out ways to proper practice of the law.

He, however, admitted the Act was “misused” and “abused” in some cases.