75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Minister of Law meets students at UN-organised discussion on the digital laws and freedom of expression and opinion
21 May 2023
The Human Rights 75 campaign marks the anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To commemorate the anniversary, the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Bangladesh in partnership with the Department of Law at BRAC University organised a panel discussion on the digital laws and freedom of expression and opinion.
The roundtable, held on 21 May, brought together independent experts, human rights activists, journalists, and students and was attended by the Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Anisul Huq, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Gwyn Lewis, and a technical expert from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), who joined the roundtable via video link.
In his remarks, Minister Anisul Huq reaffirmed the government's commitment to safeguarding human rights and said that by September 2023 the country’s Digital Security Act (DSA) will be amended after consultations with civil society and other stakeholders.
Addressing the roundtable, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Gwyn Lewis, noted that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provided the Government of Bangladesh with detailed technical comments to assist with a revision of the DSA and underlined the necessity to have a dialogue with the youth.
“I am grateful that the Honourable Minister Anisul Huq and respected guests are participating in this dialogue between the government, civil society, and the youth to exchange perspectives on progress and challenges related to the digital laws of Bangladesh and international standards. Only by having these discussions and listening to each other we can build a just and inclusive society.”
Earlier this year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called for immediate suspension of the Digital Security Act (DSA), as more than 2,000 cases have been filed under this law including the case against Matiur Rahman, the editor of the media outlet Prothom Alo.
OHCHR explained the comments the Office of the High Commissioner had sent to the government and stressed upon specific definitions, allowing for bail, limiting extensive powers given to the police. Several eminent panelists presented their views on the digital governance of Bangladesh, making recommendations for improvement.
The roundtable was attended by dozens of students from five universities in Bangladesh. Their participation in the discussion highlighted the important role of young people in shaping the future of human rights in particular in the digital space.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, it set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Human Rights 75) will be celebrated on 10 December 2023. Ahead of this milestone celebration, Human Rights 75 will rekindle the spirit, impulse, and vitality of the UDHR and renew a worldwide consensus on human rights.
The organised roundtable is a part of the Human Rights 75 campaign that seeks to increase knowledge of the universality and indivisibility of human rights and empower people to fight for their rights, especially among young people. The year-long campaign seeks to shift the needle of understanding and action toward greater knowledge of the universality of the UDHR and the activism associated with it.