Joint Statement by FIDH and Odhikar Bangladesh: New Amendment to AntiTerrorism Act gags Freedom of Expression Paris-Dhaka, 15 June 2013. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization in Bangladesh, Odhikar, are deeply concerned by the adoption on 11 June by the Parliament, the Jatiya Sangsad, of the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013 which widens the scope of sanctions provided in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 (ATA) by approving that the Courts to accept videos, still photographs and audio clips used in Facebook, twitter, Skype and other social media for trial of cases. Earlier in 2012 through another amendment the death penalty was introduced as the maximum penalty for financing ‘terrorist’ activities. The Bangladesh Parliament on 11 June 2013 passed the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013 which would allow the Courts to accept videos, still photographs and audio clips used in Facebook, twitter, Skype, and other social media for trial cases. Under this amendment the police officer concerned will immediately inform the District Magistrates about the occurrence of a crime that come under the purview of this Act and files cases against the persons or entity or foreign national. In the earlier Amendment to this Act in 2012 death penalty was introduced as the maximum penalty for terrorist activities. It also provided scope to prohibit the use of Bangladeshi land for the conduct of any terrorist activities inside the country or against other countries, all types of illegal arms and explosives, and the creation of ‘panic’ among the people through any terrorist activities. This Amendment Bill as well as the earlier one were passed with virtually no consultation with the civil society organisations and despite strong opposition from the opposition members in the Parliament. In a joint report in October 2010, entitled Bangladesh: Criminal justice through the prism of capital punishment and the fight against terrorism, FIDH and Odhikar raised their long-standing serious concerns that the vague definitions of ‘terrorists activities’ under the ATA open the legislation to potential abuse and are incompatible with the principle of legality requiring that criminal liability and punishment be limited to clear and precise provisions. This principle is enshrined in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bangladesh has ratified. 1   

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