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ICT Law Violators - Cops can arrest without warrant

Bangladesh on 07 October 2013
Location : Bangladesh | Source : The Daily Star. Image Source: Flickr User StevenDepolo

The House yesterday passed the controversial bill bringing changes in the information and communication technology (ICT) act to empower law enforcers to arrest anybody without a warrant for violating this law.

In one of the changes, the maximum punishment has been raised to 14 from 10 years.

Another bill was passed in parliament to amend the electoral roll law to bar convicted war criminals from being registered as voters.

As per the ICT act enacted by the previous BNP-Jamaat-led government, police had to seek permission from the authorities concerned to file a case against any person and arrest him for being involved in crimes covered by the law.

After the passage of the amendments, destroying computer data with malicious intent, transferring data without proper authorisation, and hacking and releasing vulgar and defaming information in electronic form will be considered as serious offences.

The Awami League-led cabinet on August 19 approved the proposed changes in the law.  And next day, President Abdul Hamid promulgated an ordinance to bring the changes in the law.

The amendments brought to the law through the ordinance would have remained in effect for only 30 days after it was placed in parliament and so ICT Minister Mostafa Faruque Mohammed placed the bill in parliament to make the changes permanent.

The House passed it in voice vote in the absence of BNP-led opposition MPs.

Experts have already expressed fear of political abuse of the amended law as, they say, the government may use it to stifle freedom of speech and expression.

NO RIGHT TO VOTE

From now on, convicted war criminals will not be able to exercise their franchise in all elections, including the parliamentary polls.

The government placed another bill in parliament to bring changes in the electoral law to disqualify some senior Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and others, who are facing war crimes charges, from contesting the next general elections, if they are convicted.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed yesterday placed the electoral roll law amendment bill and the House passed it in voice vote.

As per the change, a person will be excluded from the electoral roll if he or she is found guilty under the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunal) Order 1972 and the International Crimes Tribunal Act 1973.

Parliament also passed a bill bringing changes in the national ID card registration act to provide ID cards to people aged below 18, who are ineligible to cast votes.

The EC prepared the ID cards for voters, alongside a voter list, with photographs from 2007. With the new cards, the total number of national ID card holders will be over 9 crore.

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