Amnesty’s 10-point human rights charter ahead of elections in Bangladesh

Amnesty International has issued a 10-point human rights charter ahead of the 12th parliamentary elections of Bangladesh.

The United Kingdom-based international human rights organization published this 10-point charter on its website yesterday.

Amnesty said that general elections will be held in Bangladesh on January 7. They gave this human rights charter ahead of the elections.

According to Amnesty’s human rights charter, they are calling on all parties to ensure that the issue of human rights protection and development is included in the main plan of all political parties competing in the upcoming national elections of Bangladesh.

According to Bangladesh’s commitment to international agreements in the 10 points of Amnesty, the importance of the country’s obligation to protect human rights has been highlighted. These agreements include International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR). At the same time, Amnesty also reminded about the human rights obligations contained in the constitution of Bangladesh.

Amnesty noted that the 10-point agenda was not prioritized.

Amnesty’s 10-point human rights charter for Bangladesh is:

  1. Respect and protect freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
  2. Protect the protest.
  3. Provide a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis.
  4. End impunity in cases of disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
  5. Protect women’s rights.
  6. Protect the rights of religious minorities and ethnic minorities.
  7. Abolish the death penalty.
  8. Take inclusive, sustainable action to address the climate crisis.
  9. End impunity for deaths and torture in custody.
  10. Uphold corporate responsibility and labor rights.

Amnesty has given a brief description of the current situation in Bangladesh for each of the 10 points. The organization has put some recommendations separately for each point.

  1. Protection of freedom of expression and freedom of media

*Immediately, unconditionally release those arrested under the Cyber Security Act, Digital Security Act, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression. Dismiss the case against all the accused.

*Amend cyber security laws, in line with international human rights laws and standards. Repeal sections 21, 25 and 28 of this Act.

*Abolish provisions like jail-fines making defamation a criminal offence. Defamation should remain a matter of civil law and litigation.

  • Enact effective remedies including access to justice and adequate compensation for violations of human rights such as freedom of expression, right to privacy, right to liberty and security of person.
  • Stop abusing the law to harass and intimidate journalists.
  1. Protect the protest

Some recommendations are made with reference to the opposition protests in December 2022 and October 2023 and the use of force by law enforcement agencies against them.

*Stop using unnecessary and excessive force in dealing with public protests.

  • Fulfill the obligation to assist in the observance, including the protection, of peaceful assembly. Ensure that any response, including restrictions, is lawful, necessary, proportionate and consistent with international standards.

*Ensure that all arrests are made in accordance with due process, international human rights laws and standards. These include—notifying the reason for arrest and place of detention, bringing the arrested person immediately before a judge, ensuring access to legal counsel. Ensuring the right to a free and fair trial.

  1. A sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis

Some recommendations are made by highlighting the international assistance to the Rohingyas who fled Myanmar and took refuge in Bangladesh and various measures for children’s education.

  • Protect the rights of Rohingya refugees in accordance with international human rights law. Investigate allegations of abuse against law enforcement officials. Hold those responsible accountable.

*Ensure free access of journalists, UN representatives, civil society organizations and human rights organizations including donor-humanitarian organizations to Bhasanchar to independently assess the situation.

*Ensure Rohingya children access to timely, appropriate, quality and formal education.

*Ensure that Rohingya refugees are not resettled anywhere, including their homeland, where they may be at serious human rights abuses or at real risk of abuse.

*Include members of the Rohingya refugee community in decision-making on resettlement, repatriation, relief, development-related issues. Talk to them. Include women, persons with disabilities and members of other marginalized groups in this regard.

  • Engage in dialogue with neighboring countries, regional organizations and global stakeholders to find an integrated, inclusive and cooperative solution to the Rohingya crisis.
  1. End impunity for disappearances and extrajudicial killings

Some statistics on how many people are victims of disappearances, abductions and extrajudicial killings at the hands of law enforcement agencies are presented and some recommendations are made.

*Approve the Charter of Protection of All Persons from Disappearance without objection. Include disappearance as a criminal offense in the country’s legal system.

*Accept the request of the UN Working Group on Disappearances for an official visit to Bangladesh.

*Ensure full and effective compensation for missing persons, families.

*Initiate effective, independent and impartial investigations into the activities of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Intelligence Branch (DB) of Police, other departments of law enforcement agencies. Especially in cases of disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

  1. Protect women’s rights

Some recommendations are made by highlighting the statistics of several incidents including child marriage, violence against women, murder.

*Ensure effective implementation of existing laws to hold perpetrators of violence against women accountable. Ensure timely and adequate justice for victims. Arrange for compensation.

*Ensure women’s effective access to justice and legal services.

*Ensure that victims of gender-based violence receive timely and adequate compensation. Establish a compensation fund for them.

*Open more shelters and safe houses across the country. Disseminate information effectively.

  1. Protecting the rights of religious minorities and minority ethnic groups

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