Bangladeshi journalists arrested under ICT law13 Jun, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) in condemning recent arrests of journalists under the information and communication technology (ICT) law. The IFJ demands immediate release of the journalists.
On June 12, Golam Mostafa Rafiq, the editor of the Habiganj Samachar daily was arrested from his office over an allegedly false report published in the newspaper. Rafiq was sent to jail by a court. The report in question stated that the ruling party MP Abdul Majid Khan would not get the party nomination for the next election, and cited a Dhaka-based online news site. A cadre of Khan filed the case under the ICT Act 2006 against Khan, acting editor Rasel Chowdhury and managing editor Niharanjon Saha Niru.
In another case, journalist and university teacher Afsan Chowdhury was arrested on June 7 for defamation under the ICT Act for one of his Facebook posts. A retired army officer Masud Uddin Chowdhury filed the case after Chowdhury falsely identified him as the father of a rape accused. Chowdhury claimed that he removed the post as soon as he realized it was a mistake. On June 11, the High Court granted him anticipatory bail on condition that he would present himself to a judicial court within four weeks.
Section 57 of ICT Act 2016 states that any post, image, or video on an electronic format that “causes to deteriorate law and order, prejudice the image of the state or person or hurt religious beliefs” are non-bailable offences punishable by 7 to 14 years of jail term and a hefty fine.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ is concerned by the continued misuse of the ICT Act in Bangladesh to harass, arrest and prosecute journalists. Using ICT Act on journalists for written content is against the norms of freedom of expression, and has a chilling effect on journalists. The IFJ urges the Bangladesh government to immediately drop prosecution of journalists under the Act.”