Anti-terror law amended amid opposition walkout

The government has pushed through Parliament the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2013 to curb terrorism through inter-state cooperation amid a walkout by the opposition MPs.The new law allows court to accept videos, still photographs and audio clips, chats and conversation used on the social media such as Facebook, Skype and Twitter.
It will provide a maximum jail term of 20 years and maximum fine of Tk 2 million for funding acts of terrorism.
Senior BNP lawmaker Moudud Ahmed took the floor to say: “The law doesn’t aim at curbing terrorism; instead, it will be misused for repressing the opposition. The law will be identified as a black law since it it provides enough authority to subdue the Opposition.”
The BNP MPs staged a brief walkout before the passage of the Bill but returned at the beginning of the discussion on the proposed budget.
Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir moved the Bill that was passed by voice vote.
The minister said, to effectively check all sorts of terrorism, amendments to the current law was needed to incorporate other forms of terrorism in keeping with the UN regulations and convention and following inter-states discussions.
The Bill was placed in Parliament on Mar 3 and later sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Home Affairs for scrutiny.
The Anti-Terrorism law was promulgated in 2009 to prevent terrorism such as killing, carrying and use of arms and ammunition and other flammable objects to create panic and to check terror financing as well.
BNP lawmakers Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie, Mahbub Uddin Khokon, Jafrul Islam Chowdhury, Abul Khair, Harunur Rashid, Nazim Uddin, Syeda Asifa Ashrafi Papia, Lutfar Rahman, Nilufar Chowdhury Moni, AKM Hafizur Rahman, Rasheda Begum Hira, Rehana Akter Ranu and ZIM Mostafa Ali took part in the discussion on the proposal to elicit a public opinion on the bill and send it to the standing committee for scrutiny.
But the proposal was rejected by voice votes. (
UNB reports: Opposition BNP described the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill as contrary to the constitution saying that it will be used to snatch people’s basic rights.
“It’s a more regressive, repressive and dangerous law than that of the Special Powers Act passed by the Awami League in 1974. This black law is contrary to the constitution,” BNP MP Moudud Ahmed told a press briefing at the parliament media centre.
“The law will be used to snatch people’s human rights, basic rights and constitutional rights. It has been formulated in a bid to add a new dimension to their (govt) ongoing repressive acts against the opposition and intensify their repression further,” he said.
Apprehending that the amended law will make police autocrat, the former law minister said the law enforcers will be able to do whatever they want using the law. “The police have been given the power to subdue the opposition by abusing the law.”
Mentioning that terrorist acts have been redefined in the amended bill, he said a provision has been incorporated amending the 19th clause enabling police to accuse any person instead of organisations under the law. “Police will be able to punish anyone abusing the law.”
He said, “The horrible aspect of the law is that there’s no scope for giving bail to the accused as the offences will be considered as cognizable under it.”
Moudud said people will not accept the law as it will not bring anything good for the country other than contributing to fomenting political violence.
Addressing the briefing, another senior BNP leader MK Anwar said such an autocratic law cannot be passed in a civilised country.
He said the government amended the law to use it in oppressing the opposition to cling to power. ”The government has exposed its weakness through amending the law.”
Earlier in the day, the opposition MPs, led by Moudud, staged a brief walkout from Parliament protesting the passage of the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013.
Just before its passage, Moudud took the floor and said the bill, which is soon going to be passed in the House, has been “formulated not to curb terrorism, but to subdue the opposition.”
“This will be identified as a black law. It’s worse than the Special Powers Act passed by the Awami League in 1974,” he said.
Moudud said the law would be abused to oppress the opposition as the law enforcers are given all necessary power to subdue the opposition. “We think this bill shouldn’t be passed by the House. As the Home Minister proposed passing the bill, we’re staging a walkout in protest.”
Later, the bill was passed allowing the courts to accept videos, still photographs and audio clips used in social media.

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