Urgent Action Update: Activist Harassed Under Political Influence (Bangladesh: UA 25.20)
April 16, 2020
Businessman and activist Emdadul Haque Milon faces seven years in prison if convicted under the draconian Digital Security Act. It is believed that the case against him has been filed by a local leader of the ruling political party Awami League, who has used his political influence for personal interest. The Bangladesh government must drop the case against Emdadul Haque Milon filed under the Digital Security Act, which is a highly repressive law with vague provisions, harsh punishment and violates international human rights law.
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Ambassador Mohammad ZiauddinThe Embassy of Bangladesh
3510 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202 244 0183
Fax: 202-244-2771 | 7830
Contact form: https://bit.ly/2FzcITR
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Honorable Minister Khan,
While it is encouraging that Emdadul Haque Milon was granted bail on 26 March 2020, after serving 23 days in prison, it is alarming that he still faces a seven-year prison sentence, if convicted, for a Facebook post criticizing the decision to invite the Indian Prime Minister for a state visit.
Emdadul Haque Milon could face charges under sections 25(2), 29(1) and 31(2) of the Digital Security Act (DSA). He alleges the case against him was filed by Billal Hossain Sarker, general secretary of the Muktagachha unit of Awami League to stop him from securing a government contract. This is a clear example of a worrying trend of State agencies using draconian laws, like the DSA, to intimidate and muzzle dissent on social media.
Bangladesh is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Under Article 19 of the ICCPR, Bangladesh has an obligation to ensure that “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference”, making clear that the case against Emdadul Haque Milon violates international human rights law.
I therefore call on you to ensure the Bangladesh authorities immediately close the investigation against Emdadul Haque Milon 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 ICCPR, to which Bangladesh is a State party.