The Information Commission of Bangladesh on Tuesday set March 8 for delivering the verdict on a complaint filed with the commission against the Bangladesh Police by human rights worker and Amnesty International official Saad Hammadi.
Saad complained that the Bangladesh Police refused to provide him with information as per the Right to Information Act regarding the number of cases filed and the number of people accused and arrested under the Digital Security Act 2018.
During a hearing on the complaint, the Information Commission also asked the police to inform it in detail about Saad’s identity, citizenship, permanent and current addresses within 10 working days following an investigation.
The directive came after the police refused to give the information to Saad, who stays in Sri Lanka and works for Amnesty’s South Asia Regional Office in that country, on the grounds that the disclosure of such information could obstruct the law enforcement and could endanger public safety.
Writer, researcher and human rights defender Saad Hammadi filed the complaint against the police with the Information Commission under the Right to Information Act August 10, 2021 as he did not receive any response from the Bangladesh Police authorities.
Earlier, on June 7, 2021 Saad sought information from the Bangladesh Police about the number of cases filed and the number of people accused and arrested under the Digital Security Act.
As he was not provided with the information within 30 working days as stipulated under the section 9(1) and 9(2), Saad filed an appeal to the inspector general of the police.
Though there was a legal stipulation to dispose of an appeal within 15 days of the application, he got no response and later filed the complaint with the Information Commission.
Hammadi and lawyer Taiful Seraj, who represented the Bangladesh Police, at the online hearing on Tuesday.
Chief information commissioner Martuza Ahmed also said that the confirmation of Saad’s identity became necessary as the police had raised an issue over Saad’s citizenship as he provided his permanent address in Bangladesh and current residential address in Sri Lanka.
Replying to CIC Martuza’s query, defence lawyer Taiful Seraj said that he did not have any idea about verifying Hammadi’s permanent address.
The police lawyer said that the applicant lives in Sri Lanka and has been asking for sensitive information.
Saad told New Age, ‘The commission asked police to verify my citizenship and identity by going to my present and permanent addresses.’
The police authorities, however, refused to provide information saying that the disclosure of such information could obstruct the law enforcement and could endanger public safety.
Earlier on January 11, the commission during the first hearing, decided to give the verdict on February 2 that was deferred to February 22.