UN experts call on Bangladesh to give priority to human rights protection

A group of United Nations experts has urged the Bangladesh government to take initiative to take major reform measures with priority on human rights protection. They said that the current government has come to power for the fourth consecutive time. The reform should be done to move away from the existing repressive situation in the country and return to the path of participatory politics and dialogue.

The call was made in a press release published on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Wednesday. In the notification, the UN experts said, ‘We are concerned about the attacks, harassment and intimidation of civil society representatives, human rights activists, journalists and political activists.

United Nations experts say that there are reports of the arrest of approximately 25,000 leaders and activists of the opposition party ahead of the national elections. Apart from this, 56 people have been killed in the election-centric violence in the country. There have been allegations of torture and lack of medical treatment of political prisoners. Law enforcement personnel are using extra force. Miscreants have also caused incidents of fire and violence. But these incidents of human rights violations in the country have not been investigated independently.

UN experts pointed out that some political parties, including the main opposition BNP, did not have confidence in the electoral system and boycotted the elections. They say that the members of the ruling party pressure the voters to vote. There have also been allegations of threats of assault and withdrawal of government financial benefits under social security if they do not vote.

UN experts said, ‘We have written to the Bangladesh government about this. I have called on the government of Bangladesh to immediately and independently investigate the allegations of human rights violations.
UN experts say, ‘We are deeply concerned to see the dangerous deterioration of human rights, fundamental rights and the rule of law in Bangladesh and at the same time the loss of trust of the people of the country in state institutions. As the country’s image is being damaged, the overall social and economic development of Bangladesh will be threatened.

UN experts have urged the government to take initiative to uphold human rights. They said, “We are calling on the government to take initiative to restore people’s confidence in the democratic process by bringing reforms in various issues with emphasis on human rights in the new action plan, creating a favorable environment for the people to freely exercise their fundamental rights and participate in politics.”

UN experts called on the government to immediately release the representatives of civil society and political leaders. They called for the necessary reform measures to ensure the independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression, organization and peaceful assembly and freedom of the press.

In addition to these calls, UN experts also said, “We are ready to provide any kind of cooperation and advice to the Bangladesh government in protecting human rights and strengthening the rule of law.”

The members of the UN expert team calling on Bangladesh are: Clement Nyaletsosi Vol, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association; Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights protection; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the Development and Protection of Freedom of Expression; Chair-Rapporteur Priya Gopalan; Vice Chairs Matthew Gillett and Gana Yudkivska; and Miriam Estrada-Castillo and Mumba Malila of the Working Committee on Arbitrary Detention.

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