Distinguished professor Dr. Ali Riaz has published a research report on the impacts of the Digital Security Act in Bangladesh. The law came into effect in October 2018 and has been criticized by human rights groups as draconian. The report titled The Unending Nightmare, documents the use of the law since January 2020. According to the report, a total of 890 cases have been filed under the law until the end of February 2022. In these cases, 2244 people have been accused and 842 have been arrested. The report noted that more than 30% of the accused are politicians and more than 25% are journalists. Research showed that at least 208 journalists have been accused and 59 were arrested. Riaz also showed that the law has been used by the government and its supporters against the critics of the incumbent.
Besides the law enforcement agencies, individuals can file cases for defamation, hurting religious sentiment and undermining the image of the country. Among the individual accusers, a staggering 81% belong to the ruling Bangladesh Awami League and its various wings. The report also found out that there were 568 cases filed for Facebook postings of which 399 were for expressing opinion on social and political issues. In many instances, accused have become victims of pre-trial detention for an indefinite period. Mushtaq Ahmed, an author and a social activist, died in February 2021 in jail while being in pre-trial detention for ten months. DSA has given “immense power” to law enforcement agencies while there are no monitoring and accountability mechanisms, Riaz opined in the report. The research is being conducted under the auspices of Centre for Governance Studies, a leading think tank of Bangladesh.