Controversial Section 57 of ICT Act will go: Information Minister Inu

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu has signalled that the controversial Section 57 of the ICT Act that muzzles freedom of speech will be scrapped.

Published : 29 Nov 2017, 12:54 PM
Updated : 29 Nov 2017, 12:54 PM

The law has drawn criticism from media and rights activists who say the particular provision curbs freedom of speech and expression.

“Sections 54, 55, 56, 57 and 66 will be dissolved if the draft of Digital Security Act 2017 gets the cabinet’s approval,” Inu said at the Secretariat on Wednesday.  

“I have finalised the draft. I hope to present it in the upcoming winter session of parliament,” he told reporters after a ministerial meeting.

The provision criminalises ‘publishing fake, obscene or defaming information in electronic form’.

The maximum sentence under Section 57 is 14 years in prison and a Tk 10 million fine. Offences are non-bailable.

It has led to the incarceration of several members of the media due to allegations over reports, Facebook posts and other online activities.

Law Minister Anisul Huq, who was present at Wednesday’s meeting, said: “It’s Section 57 that is creating tension. I believe it will be dissolved and the digital security law and the broadcast act will ensure check and balance and protection of freedom of speech.”

The digital security law aims to protect the digital world and help it grow, said Inu.

The draft had been created in line with the basic rights of the citizens mentioned in the constitution, said Inu.

Asked if the controversial provision will be included in the digital security law in one way or another, Inu said: “The Digital Security Act is being designed to tackle digital crimes only.”

“It is for the 160 million people of the country, not for the journalists in particular. Journalists and media activists will be addressed in the broadcast law.”