Brief Overview

Bangladesh is witnessing continuously shrinking civic and democratic space amidst crackdown on political opponents, human rights activists, journalists, bloggers. The Awami League-led government has stepped up its authoritarian crackdown against free speech by censoring media and targeting dissenters. The Digital Security Act of 2018 has severely restricted the work of journalists, activists, human rights defenders, and others who faced arrests for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Impunity for abuses by security forces, including grave violations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, remains prevalent. Bangladesh presently hosts nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees. Though it has not forcibly returned them, human rights violations against refugees such as arbitrary detention and communication blackouts in the camps have occurred.

Digital Security Act, 2018

The Digital Security Act (DSA) is mainly derived from the Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act. It retains some of the problematic provisions and also includes more repressive provisions criminalizing free speech and dissent. Punishment under this draconian law extends up to a fine of 50 million taka (US$ 600,000) and life imprisonment. The law is a license for wide-ranging suppression of critical voices by harassing and indefinitely detaining activists, journalists and others critical of the government and its political leadership, which is against the fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of Bangladesh.

The DSA’s vague and overly broad provisions are used to abuse the rights of free speech and silence critics as most of the cases are lodged by either ruling party members, or members of affiliated bodies of the ruling party, or their supporters.


22 May: Journalist arrested under DSA in Meherpur gets bail

Meherpur Pratidin Joint Editor Al Amin Hossain arrested under DSA granted bail the same day. He was arrested over a news article that allegedly tarnished the image of former independent MP from Meherpur, Maqbool Hossain.

18 May: Mayhem in Sunamganj: Jhumon Das, sued under DSA, still in jail

Jhumon Das Apon, arrested under DSA over criticising Hefajat-e-Islam leader Mamunul Haque on Facebook, has been in jail for over two months owing to several postponement of bail hearings, including the one scheduled for 18 May.

17 May: Prothom Alo journalist Rozina taken to police station after 5 hours’ confinement at Secretariat 

Arrest of journalist Rozina Islam, reporting on corruption and mismanagement in the health sector since a month, under under colonial-era Official Secrets Act has spurred demonstrations and serious concerns from the oppositionthe media, the UNAmnesty International, and CPJ. She was granted bail on 23 May on the condition that she surrenders her passport to the court.

 16 May: Former president of Satkhira Bar Association arrested in Digital Security Act Case

Shah Alam has been arrested under DSA for insulting opponent lawyer Abdul Latif during a case hearing on 26 April;  Shah Alam had reported Latif and several other lawyers to the police for allegedly attacking Alam’s chambers on  27 April.

13 May: Khulna journo Tayyab finally out on bail in Digital Security Act case

Senior television journalist Abu Tayyab arrested under the Digital Security Act for social media posts about alleged corruption by Khulna City Corporation mayor, Talukder Abdul Khaleque, who is also the president of Awami League’s city unit, finally released on bail.

12 May: Journo sent to jail in DSA case

Journalist Khalilur Rahman, the Nolcity upazila correspondent of Dainik Janata and reporter for local newspaper Dainik Somoyer Barta, arrested and sent to jail under the Digital Security Act for allegedly making derogatory remarks against incumbent councillor of Nolcity upazilla.

30 April: Man held for defaming PM Hasia and PM Modi on social media.

A man is arrested under the Digital Security Act for allegedly uploading an objectionable video of PM Hasina and PM Modi on his Facebook after distorting their images by using Photoshop software.

28 April: 3 arrested under DSA for defaming Prime Minister and Home Minister.

Three arrested on separate incidents under the Digital Security Act for allegedly posting provocative messages and distorted images of PM Hasina and Home Minister Kamal on social media.

4 April 2021: DSA case against journalist Kajol shifted to Cyber Tribunal

Case of photojournalist Kajol, charged under the Digital Security Case in February 2021 for circulating indecent, defamatory, objectionable and fake information against ministers, MPs, and leaders, has been transferred to the Dhaka Cyber Tribunal for trial.

2 April 2021: Bangladesh teen held for ‘offensive video’ mocking PM Hasina and PM Modi.

19-year arrested under the Digital Security Act for posting an offensive music video on Facebook that allegedly mocked PM Hasina and PM Modi. If charged, he could face up to 14 years in prison.

15 March: Case under DSA: Leftist leader Ruhul denied bail again

Ruhul Amin remains in jail since 27 February after his arrested for a social media post calling for a symbolic “coffin rally” protesting the custodial death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed.

9 February: Police charge journo Kajol, cartoonist Kishore

Police have pressed charges against photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol, cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, writer Mushtaq Ahmed and Rashtrochinta activist Didarul Islam Bhuiyan in two cases filed last year under the Digital Security Act.


22 OctoberBFUJ Journalists leader Ruhul Amin Gazi arrested in Bangladesh

The leader of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalist (BFUJ), Sangram Ruhul Amin Gazi, has been arrested under the DSA.

22 JuneDSA violations: Ninth grader lands in juvenile centre

Bangladeshi authorities arrested a ninth grader for making a Facebook post allegedly defaming Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

21 MayDigital Security Act: Journo held over reports on AL MP in Habiganj

Police have arrested Sushanta Dasgupta, editor and publisher of local newspaper Dainik Amar Habiganj, in a case filed under the DSA.

14 May3 Meherpur journos sued under Digital Security Act

Three journalists of a local newspaper in Meherpur have been sued under the Digital Security Act. They include, Emon Ahmed, publisher of daily Meherpur Pratidin, its editor Yadul Momin and joint editor Al Amin.

6 MayBangladesh police charge 11 for spreading virus ‘rumours’

Kishore, Ahmed, and three other journalists were among 11 people investigated under the DSA for spreading rumours and carrying out anti-government activities.

1 MayDigital Security Act: 3 journos sent to jail

Ramzan Ali Pramanik, news editor of Dainik Grameen Darpan, Shanta Banik, a reporter with Dainik Grameen Darpan, and Shaon Khondoker Shahin, editor of news website Narsingdi Pratidin were arrested and detained under the DSA.

19 April: editor-in-chief, acting editor sued under digital security act

Toufique Imrose Khalidi, editor-in-chief of and Mohiuddin Sarker, acting editor of, were sued under the DSA.

14 AprilDigital Security Act: 11 sued, two sent to jail

Golam Sarwar Pintu, a reporter formerly with the Bangla Daily Bangladesh Alo, was arrested after Sheikh Salim, a Dhaka city councillor of Ward 38, filed a case under the Digital Security Act with Badda Police Station. Pintu’s crime was that he had covered a protest staged by locals demanding relief.

10 MarchManabzamin editor, 31 others sued under Digital Security Act

Police launched an investigation into Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, editor of Bangla-language daily Manab Zamin, and 31 others on “publishing false news and circulating it on social media.”

9 March: Missing Bangladeshi journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol arrested after being found near Indian border

Shafiqul Islam Kajol went “missing” on March 10, one day after a criminal defamation suit was filed against him and 31 others. He was suddenly “discovered” on May 3, 53 days after his disappearance. He faced three cases under the DSA for sharing on his Facebook page a news link on ruling party lawmaker Saifuzzaman Shikhor’s alleged links to a notorious female Jubo League leader.

10 February: Bangladesh: New Arrests Stifle Free Speech

Nur Mohammad was arrested for associating with Enamul Haque Moni, who was arrested in 2018 for spreading fake news and propaganda

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