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Honorable Minister Khan,
I am deeply concerned to learn of the detention of Emdadul Haque Milon, who was arrested on 3 March 2020 for merely sharing his views on Facebook.
Emdadul Haque Milon used his Facebook account to express his concern about the Bangladesh government’s invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a State visit in March 2020. Police allege that he also shared a post with a satirical image of Bangladeshi minister Obaidul Quader. For simply expressing his views online, Emdadul Haque Milon has been accused of defamation, being offensive and deteriorating law and order under the draconian Digital Security Act (DSA). He can be held indefinitely in pre-trial detention and, if convicted, he could face up to seven years in jail.
Emdadul Haque Milon’s case is a glaring example of how the DSA is being arbitrarily used by State agencies and the police to intimidate and muzzle people’s dissent and criticism on social media. As you are aware, the UN Human Rights Committee has observed that “all public figures, including those exercising the highest political authority such as heads of state and government, are legitimately subject to criticism and political opposition.” (CCPR/C/GC/34)
Emdadul Haque Milon is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. I call on you, to urge the Bangladesh government to immediately and unconditionally release Emdadul Haque Milon and drop all charges against him, and all those implicated solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression; decriminalize defamation, and treat it as a matter of civil litigation; and promptly amend the Digital Security Act in compliance with international human rights law, including the ICCPR, to which Bangladesh is a state party.