Editors Council expresses concern over arrests of journalists under DSA

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The Sampadak Parishad (Editors’ Council) has expressed the greatest concern and worry over the recent spate of suing of journalists, a cartoonist, and a writer and arresting several of them under the Digital Security Act (DSA) on flimsy and unsubstantiated grounds.

“No concern is being shown as to the merit of complaints before making arrests. Reasons such as ‘tarnishing the image,’ ‘spreading rumor,’ or ‘criticizing the government’ appear sufficient to put journalists behind bars,” it said issuing a statement on Thursday.

“Any complaint under DSA almost automatically leads to arrests. Recently photojournalist Kajol was handcuffed while being produced in court. Simple criticism of lawmakers, district administrations, and people in power are behind most of the recent cases,” reads the statement.

Lawmakers traditionally always stood for free media and freedom of thought and critical thinking. Regrettably, a few of them are now a part of the current DSA-led onslaught against the media. The clear preference of filing cases under DSA instead of existing defamation laws indicates a desire to intimidate and harass journalists rather than seek justice, it added.

“It is the inherent duty of the media to expose corruption and irregularities and point out the failures of the administration. This is all more necessary when thousands of crores of taka are being spent by the government to fight pandemic and its disastrous consequences,” it said.

Sampadak Parishad had opposed the DSA from the very start, fearing that it will be used as a weapon to suppress freedom of the media, it said.

“Our fear is now a nightmare-reality for the mass media. We consider the recent suing and arrest of journalists as clear threats to freedom of press and freedom of expression. We demand the immediate release of all journalists and withdrawal of all cases against them. We condemn the frequent and indiscriminate use of DSA against the media and common citizens and demand that the Act be repealed,” reads the statement.

The whole nation must unite to face the pandemic and the economic challenges that beset the country, it said.

“Such anti-free media actions and frequent arrest of journalists only serve to hamper that united effort,” the Sampadak Parishad said.

Repot- Dhaka Tribune

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