Dhaka, Sep 3 (IANS) Amnesty International on Saturday demanded the release of a Bangladeshi student activist who was detained for allegedly making “derogatory remarks” about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the ruling Awami League on Facebook.
Dilip Roy, 22, a student activist at Rajshahi University in western Bangladesh, was booked on August 28 after a student body linked to the government filed a case against him under Section 57 of the country’s Information and Communications Technology Act (ICT) for his alleged offence of writing two Facebook posts critical of the Prime Minister’s support for a controversial coal power plant.
“Bangladesh’s authorities should immediately drop this case. By invoking draconian laws to hound critics for Facebook posts, they are not just cracking down on peaceful dissent but courting embarrassment,” said Director for South Asia, Amnesty International Champa Patel.
Amnesty International has called on the Bangladesh authorities to repeal section 57 of the ICT Act and pointed out that section 57 of the ICT Act is “vaguely formulated” and “used by the authorities to target and imprison critics”. This stands in violation of Bangladesh’s obligations under international human rights law.
The ICT Act – first passed in 2006 and amended in 2013 – has for years been used by the authorities in Bangladesh to choke freedom of expression.
According to the human rights organisation Odhikar, at least 59 people were arrested under the ICT Act between January 2014 and July 2016.
Roy could face a 14 year jail sentence for his offence. He is set to appear at a bail hearing on September 4.