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Teen Dipti Rani Das has been in jail for a year over a Facebook post. Amnesty International urges her release

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2021-11-25 11:06:58 BdST

Amnesty International has urged Bangladeshi authorities to immediately release Dipti Rani Das, a 17-year-old Hindu girl who was arrested on Oct 28, 2020 over a Facebook post.

She was booked under the country’s ‘draconian’ Digital Security Act on vague charges of ‘hurting religious sentiment’ and ‘advancing to deteriorate law and order’, the human rights organisation said in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday.

Dipti is being detained at a correction facility in Rajshahi and could face up to seven years in jail if convicted.

It is difficult not to be concerned by punishment that snatches formative years from a child’s life simply for a Facebook post, said Saad Hammadi, Amnesty International's South Asia campaigner.

"It shows how repressive laws like the Digital Security Act can effectively traumatise an individual.”

“The state is the guardian of its people. Instead of providing protection, we have a teenage girl languishing at a correction facility for more than a year. Dipti Rani Das should be in school, not in detention."

Amnesty called on authorities to ensure the protection of Dipti, her family and other members of the minority groups in Bangladesh from communal or politically motivated attacks, release all those detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and repeal the Digital Security Act or amend it in line with international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

After being denied bail three times by a lower court, a High Court granted her bail on May 11, 2021. However, the bail order was stayed through an appeal by the government.

The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, stated that “prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the Covenant”, except in the specific circumstances when it amounts to advocacy of hatred that incites violence, hostility or discrimination.