The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) strongly condemn the arrest of an editor under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act for published content in Bangladesh. The IFJ and the BMSF demand immediate release of the editor.
Siddiqur Rahman, the editor of education specialist website DainikShiksha.com, was arrested on September 1 over a news item. Rahman was arrested after Prof. Fahima Khatun, wife of a ruling Awami League parliamentarian Obaidur Muktadir and a sister of Food Minister Kamrul Islam, filed a case under Section 57 of the ‘notorious’ ICT Act. Khatun, the former Director General of the Higher Secondary Education Directorate, claimed that a news claiming corruption during her tenure in the Directorate, ‘defamed and tarnished’ her image and that of the state.
Rahman worked as staff reporter of the Daily New Age, Bangladesh largest English daily, before joining the website.
The controversial Section 57 of the ICT Act 2006 criminalizes several forms of online expression including false information, defamatory statements, and expression that tarnishes the image of the state or an individual. The Section is broad in scope and interpretation and the offences punishable by jail term up to 14 years. The law has been used against journalists and social media users. In August, three online journalists of banglamail24.com were arrested under the Act for publishing a false news while at least six journalists and bloggers were arrested in 2015.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemn the use of ICT Act to arrest journalist Siddiqur Rahman in Bangladesh. The IFJ believes that some provisions of the Act, including Section 57, is against the norms of freedom of expression and press freedom, and shall be repealed immediately. It’s sad the despite constitutional commitment to press freedom, Bangladesh is using laws to silence legitimate expressions.”
The IFJ added: “If the published contents are questionable, it should be investigated by the Press Council, not under the criminal laws. The IFJ demands immediate release of Rahman dropping charges against him made under the ICT Act.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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