Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said journalists need not be worried about the Digital Security Law if they have no motive of making false or fabricated news.
She made this remark while addressing a press briefing at her official residence Gonobhaban in the capital to brief the journalists about her events on UN assembly.
Sheikh Hasina, also the president of the ruling Awami League said,” A few journalists who have some ulterior motive may be worried about this law. ” Referring to the several false news of some media outlets, especially during the military backed caretaker government, she said, “Who will address the sufferings of those who were victimized by false and fabricate news?”
She also put a counter question on how the journalists will compensate the persons who were victimized due to baseless media reports. She pointed out that draft of the Digital Security Act was available online and discussions had taken place with everyone.
She said, “How have the journalists suddenly become so worried? Someone who does not have a criminal mindset or no plan to commit crimes in the future has nothing to worry.”
Sheikh Hasina, also the daughter of the Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who led the great liberation war in 1971 said, “Journalists don’t have anything to be worried about, at least as long as I am here.’
The Digital Security Bill 2018 was passed in Parliament on September 19 with stiff penalties for a wide variety of cyber infractions.
The head of the government said, “We had reviewed laws of other countries before formulating the Act.” But it did not have provision for compensating the victims, she opined .
The Digital Security Law has nothing outside the Code of Criminal Procedure provisions, she said adding, the law has just accommodated provisions on digital devices and their usages.
Sheikh Hasina said, “I think a clause should be added in it that if journalists or media provide information against someone, they must prove that it is correct. Otherwise, that journalist or the media will have to face punishment and pay damages. The system is in vogue in England.”
Referring to an incident involving the BBC, she said its top brass had to step down for running false reports against an MP.
Sheikh Hasina recalled that false corruption reports were run by a newspaper when she was incarcerated in 2007. The allegations turned out to be baseless after investigation but the newspaper went scot-free.
She said the image and reputation of the persons named in false reports are damaged. “Those who wrote big headlines on Padma Bridge are still walking with their heads high. But who will look after those who were dishonoured before their families and the society because of the false and fabricated news reports?”
The new law is not one sided but meant for the protection of all citizens. If no one willfully prints false news and views with an ulterior motive, they will have nothing to be worried about.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her party would remain in office if the people vote it to power in the next election while it does not bank on any force abroad for retaining power.
“We depend on the people, not any outside force to remain in power,” she said .
Cyber Security has posed a serious concern across the world, creating social and family problems in many countries and giving indulgence to militancy, terrorism and destroying moral values, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said no world leader has given her any advice on next election. Rather they wished me to come back to power again and meet them in next UNGA.
Replying to a question on a facebook post of cricketer Liton Das, the prime minister said Bangladesh believes in secularism. But, she regretted, a section of radicalized people is out to destroy social fabrics.
“Actually those people are mentally perverted and have no ideology. The society should be more careful to resist them, she said urging journalists to play vital roles in this regard.
Replying to a question on how much she was hopeful about repatriation of the Rohingyas, the prime minister said Myanmar has signed the agreement to take them back and consultation is going on to this end.
Every country in the world is giving pressure on Myanmar to take back their nationals from Bangladesh, she said. The government has prepared a livable place in Bhasan Char for Rohingays to help them lead a healthy life, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government didn’t do any wrong for which it should have to be ousted from power. Rather, Bangladesh is one of the few countries in the world that achieved unprecedented development in recent years, she added.
Bangladesh has never seen such envious pace of development after independence barring the period of Bangabandhu, she said adding that but Bangladesh always experienced conspiracies as a vested quarter never liked the people to live in peace and become economically solvent.
The prime minister said the countrymen want election and they are eagerly waiting for the polls. But, it’s the decision of the political parties whether they would come to the election or not, she added.
“However, I hope that every political party would take part in the election,” the prime minister said.
Sheikh Hasina said she wondered to see the concerns of some journalists about the participation of a particular political party which, she said, was squarely responsible for killing people resorting to arson and bomb attacks.
“How the political leaders who could not control their greed on orphans money would run the country,” she asked.
Sheikh Hasina said people of the country want continuation of the development and they believe that only ‘boat’, election symbol of Awami League, can do this.