Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | ePaper

The trap of Section 57

1550 cases on cyber crime charges in 7yrs: 60 journos among 1700 held under ICT Act

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Md Joynal Abedin Khan  :
At least 1700 people, including 60 journalists, were sued under section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act in last seven years, Police Headquarters sources said.
Section 57 has already created fear among the social media users and the journalists resulting in self-censorship, which is an obstacle of people's right to express, it was alleged.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) cyber crime unit sources said, a total of 1,417

cases on cyber crime charges were filed with police between 2012 and June 2017 and during that period only 179 of them have been dismissed.
They said, some 99 cases were lodged between July 1, 2017 and June 30 this year in Dhaka alone and 125 people arrested, hinting the rise in number of such cases.  
Even the cases have been filed against the journalists under section 57 and most of the cases are related to news reports, they further added.
In the latest, the matter of cyber crime cases and the controversy that surrounds them came to light again after legal measures under the ICT Act were taken against a number of people for reportedly spreading rumours and inciting violence during the movement of safe roads campaign centering the death of two college students on Airport road recently.
Those who were accused in ICT cases and arrested included Drik founder and celebrated photographer Shahidul Alam and actor Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed.
At least 740 cases were filed under the ICT Act throughout the country till July 2017, and 60 per cent of them are under Section 57, said a Cyber Security Tribunal Prosecutor.
Offences under Section 57 is made non-bailable with a minimum seven years and maximum 14 years in jail for publications that 'causes to deteriorate law and order, prejudice the image of the state or person or hurt religious belief'.
The Cabinet has recently approved the draft of the Digital Security Act 2018 repealing the ICT Act's controversial Section 57, but the cases filed under this section will not be dismissed.
According to the proposed law, anyone spreading negative propaganda against the 1971 Liberation War or Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, using digital devices, will risk being sentenced.
Earlier, amid widespread criticisms, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq said section 57 would be removed and a new "Digital Security Act was in the pipeline".
DMP Deputy Commissioner (media) Masudur Rahman said that they arrested at least 13 people in a number of ICT cases over the past week for their alleged involvement in spreading rumours on social media during the student movement.

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