Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the recent arbitrary detention and other forms of harassment of artists who are facing increasing attacks on their right to freedom of expression in Bangladesh.
The organisation has called on the Bangladeshi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore and writer Mushtaq Ahmed since they have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, and drop all charges against artists Anonno Mamun, Shaheen Mridha, Rita Dewan, Kishore, and Mushtaq.
Amnesty International, in its 2018 report "Muzzling Dissent Online", provided detailed analyses of how the Digital Security Act 2018 contravenes the right to freedom of expression, and called on the Bangladeshi authorities to repeal its repressive sections including Section 21.
In a new report they mentioned, "The right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity is enshrined both in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)—Bangladesh is a state party to both instruments.
"Article 19(2) of ICCPR stipulates that the right to freedom of expression includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, including in the form of art. According to Article 15(3) of the ICESCR, State parties are required to "respect the freedom indispensable for...creative activity".
"Bangladesh's Constitution also guarantees people's right to freedom of expression (Article 39). In the 2013 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights Council, Bangladesh accepted several recommendations concerning the right to freedom of expression.
"However, instead of reforming the legal regime in accordance to the commitments made then, Bangladesh has further undermined the space for artistic freedom with the introduction of a more repressive and draconian law in 2018—the Digital Security Act."
They asked that Bangladesh must uphold its obligations under international human rights law and guarantee the space of artistic and creative expression without the fear of retribution.