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Post-MDG framework, Experts for addressing growing rich-poor gap
With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire by 2015, experts in Bangladesh have laid emphasis on addressing the growing inequality between the poor and the rich in the post-2015 framework.
The MDGs were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 to achieve eight goals by 2015.
Journalists and rights activists yesterday urged parliamentarians not to approve the recent amendment proposal to the ICT law, which they said could easily be misused.
Law enforcers will be able to arrest any person without any warrant for publishing any material in electronic form that causes deterioration of law and order, harm the image of the state or person or hurt religious belief, according to the ICT (Amendment) Act 2013.
The offender of the non-bailable crime will be punished for a maximum of 14 years in jail and seven years at the minimum, as per the law.
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[Dhaka, 22 September 2013] Speakers told that the ICT Act (amendment) 2013 sharply conflicts with Bangladesh Constitution’s Article 39 and 43 which guarantee freedom of expression and right to privacy respectively. Terming it as a ‘black law’, speakers urged the government not to enact as a law. A press conference titled ‘ICT Act (Amendment) 2013: Challenges for Right to Privacy and Freedom of Expression’ was held by VOICE in the city’s national press club today while it was jointly collaborated with Bangladesh Manobadhikar Shangbadik forum, Campaign on Citizen’s Right to Information, Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum, Somewherein.net Blog, Online Knowledge Society, Shushashoner Jonyo Procharabhijan (SUPRO) and School of Communication and Cultural Metaphysics.
Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, CEO, Boishaki Television, Khairuzzaman Kamal, Executive Director, Bangladesh Manobadhikar Shangbadik Forum, Zakir Hossain, Executive Director of Nagorik Uddog and Convener of Campaign on Citizen Right to Information, Syeda Gulshan Ferdous Jana, Acting Managing Director, Somewherein.net Blog and, Farjana Akhter, Programme Coordinator, Voice spoke at the press briefing while Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of Voice moderated the session.
ALREADY a repressive law, the existing ICT Act-2006 is being further blackened by the government through approving the proposed draft of its amendment styled ICT (Amendment) Ordinance-2013. Worse still, the proposed draft Act has made non-cognisable offences in the existing law cognisable, abolished the provision of bail and increased the extent of punishment to 14 years in prison.
On the flipside, it also provides the police with unrestricted power to arrest any person suspected of breaking the law without issuing warrant. It will constrict freedom of thought and thereby democracy.
In line with our consistent position against vesting arbitrary power in the law-enforcers’ hand, we express our strong reservation against the proposed amendment to the ICT Act.
The cabinet yesterday approved the draft of the ICT (Amendment) Ordinance-2013 proposing to empower law enforcers to arrest any person without warrant and increase the highest punishment to 14 years. In the original Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act-2006, enacted by the BNP-Jamaat government, the maximum punishment was 10 years’ jail term and a fine of Tk 1 crore.
And police had to seek permission from the authorities concerned to file a case and arrest any person involved in crimes covered under the law.
The amendments, okayed in a regular cabinet meeting, envisage a minimum jail term of seven years.
In the original act, termed by many a repressive law, offences were bailable. Now they have been made non-bailable, meaning the bail is at the judge’s discretion.
“Some crimes were non-cognisable under the existing act,” Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain told reporters after the meeting at the Bangladesh Secretariat.
“But the new act will make those cognisable. [That means] the police will be able to arrest a suspect without issuing of warrant [by the court]. But they will have to produce the arrested person before the court within 24 hours.”
He said the cabinet had asked the ICT ministry to bring further changes in the law, if necessary, after reviewing the proposed amendments.
A public dialogue on ‘Challenges of Privacy and Security in Bangladesh: Perspective from Human Rights Defenders’ was held on Sunday, 30 June 2013 at the CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka. The dialogue was organized by VOICE in association with Law Life Culture, Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum; Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum, Campaign on Citizen Right to Information; Equity and Justice Working Group; Online Knowledge Society, Sushashoner Jonno Procharavijan (SUPRO); School of Communications and Cultural Metaphysics. Eminent leaders and journalists including Khushi Kabir, Women Leader, and Coordinator of Nijera Kori; Mahmdur Rahman Manna, Politician, Saiful Haque, general secretary of The Revolutionary Workers Party, Dr. Shahriar Rahman of Asia Pacific University spoke in the panel among others.
The panelists discussed the issues of privacy, national security and along with the existing institutional practices on legal and policy regulations to rise with the human rights framework. They also discussed the recent criminalization of right to freedom of expression and privacy and raised on how to build a broader constituency creating capacity and strengthening networking through raising voices to uphold privacy rights being critical on communication surveillance in Bangladesh.
Civil right groups EquityBD and VOICE have criticized United Nation High Level Panel (UN HLP) report on post 2015 agenda for development terming it "as lofty goal and empty bowl."
At a press conference held at National Press Club, leaders of these organizations said the report is far from meeting the needs of the transforming economies. The release of the UN HLP report on June 30 in New York was chaired by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Indonesian President Dr. Susilo Bambang and Liberian President Alen Johnson Sirlef.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury and Ahmed Swapan Mahmud spoke on the occasion.
They said the report has over emphasized the role of free market and private sector financing to attain the goals and in doing so it failed to strike a balance between private sector and public sector financing.
They said free market is responsible for producing poverty and global inequality and this in turn is only widening the gap between rich and poor. Private finance always looks for profit and it can't be used to establish equity and justice.
A world forum of civil society organizations is urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to push for greater state responsibility to ensure people’s welfare, especially in developing countries.
Discussions on a global post- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) still “lean to a market-based development approach, which means the expansion of the market that minimizes the responsibility of the state,” Sugeng Bahagijo of the international NGO the Indonesian Development Forum (INFID), said on Monday in Nusa Dua, Bali.
“The trend is for each country to recognize voluntary action in implementing the global development framework [which] is not binding and would be detrimental to the people. The responsibility of states must be laid out clearly through a binding universal mechanism,” Sugeng added.
A 24-member advisory panel will meet on Tuesday after discussions on Monday between scholars, representatives of the public sector, civil society organizations and youth organziations.
On Wednesday two of the three cochairs of the Bali High Level Panel, Yudhoyono and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will conclude the talks, while cochair UK Prime Minister David Cameron will participate by video conference.
Journalists, academics, rights activists and civil society representatives on Tuesday urged the government not to curb citizens’ freedom of expression by controlling internet use.
They made the call at a dialogue on ‘Challenges and opportunities of freedom of expression online in Bangladesh’ and the launch of a report ‘Bangladesh: an assessment of freedom expression online’ at a local hotel in the capital.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression programme launched the report.
The speakers observed that there was no need to formulate an online policy, saying that the Shahbagh movement itself was the result of blogging or online activities.
Referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the speakers at the programme emphasised the need to ensure right to freedom of expression online and pluralism in society.
The event was organised by VOICE, in association with Bangladesh Manabadhikar Sangbadik Forum, Campaign on Citizen Right to Information, Equity and Justice Working Group, Online Knowledge Society, Sushashaner Jonno Pracharavijan, School of Communications and Cultural Metaphysics.
Tribunal needed to protect citizen’s right to privacy
Justice (Retd) Golam Rabbani on Saturday urged the government to form a national tribunal to protect citizens’ right to privacy. “The tribunal should operate in every district in Bangladesh and collect anecdotal evidence from ordinary people, so as to form an effective policy to protect their rights to privacy,” he said during a ‘National convention on right to privacy and data protection.’
It was held at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital and organised by the non-governmental organization Voice, in association with Bangladesh ICT Journalist’s Forum, Campaign for Citizen’s Right to Information, Campaign for Good Governance, Privacy International, Media watch, Equitybd and somewhere in.blog
Justice Rabbani said the Right to Information Act 2009 emphasises that information that may endanger public security or impede the judicial process should not be disclosed.
“The problem is that many people remain unaware of the RTI Act. Everyone should become familiar with the concepts of privacy and disclosure,” he said.
Sayed Marghub Morshed, former chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said that protecting individual’s personal information has become more crucial than ever before.