The United State on Wednesday expressed strong concerns over certain provisions of the digital security act and urged the government of Bangladesh to make necessary changes to bring it into conformity with its international commitments on human, civil and political rights.
“While we recognize the need to protect digital security, we share the strong concerns of the international community that Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act could be used to suppress and criminalize free speech, to the detriment of Bangladesh’s democracy, development, and prosperity,” a State Department Spokesperson told Bangla Tribune.
Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act was signed into law on October 8, which has drawn criticism from human rights bodies and several countries including the European Union.
“We encourage the Government of Bangladesh to revise the law to bring it into conformity with Bangladesh’s international commitments on human, civil, and political rights and to ensure that it provides for checks and balances against arbitrary arrest and other undue restrictions imposed on the right to legitimate exercise of freedom of expression,” the spokesperson said in response to a question.
The US values freedom of expression, including online expression, as a key component of democratic governance, the spokesperson said.
According to Forbes, the act incorporates measures from the colonial-era Official Secrets Act as well as a number of measures restricting the activities of the media.
“These include a jail sentence of up to 14 years for spreading 'propaganda' about Bangladesh's 1971 war for independence from Pakistan, as well as a three-year sentence for publishing information that is 'aggressive or frightening',” it said.