They urge govt to release opposition activists immediately

UN experts alarmed by dangerous decline of human rights in Bangladesh

UN experts alarmed by dangerous decline of human rights in Bangladesh

United Nations experts on Wednesday in a statement they were alarmed by the dangerous decline of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law in Bangladesh, eroding public trust in state institutions.

‘This is also tarnishing the country’s image and could endanger its social and economic development,’ they said.

The release was issued from Geneva by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

Having mentioned that in the lead up to the elections, reportedly some 25 thousand opposition leaders and supporters were arrested and 56 people killed in election-related violence, including alleged torture and deliberate denial of healthcare for political prisoners, excessive use of force by law enforcement authorities, arson, and violence by unidentified groups, the statement added that there had been no independent investigations into these violations.

The UN experts called on the government to immediately and unconditionally release all civil society and political activists detained without charge or on charges inconsistent with international human rights law and ensure fair public trials in accordance with international human rights standards for those charged with criminal offences.

The experts said that they are alarmed at reports of widespread attacks, harassment and intimidation of civil society, human rights defenders, journalists and political activists, which marred the recent elections.

‘We have written to the Government of Bangladesh, urging them to conduct full, prompt and independent investigations into the alleged numerous human rights violations,’ the experts said in the statement.

They noted in the statement that the country’s main opposition party, the Bangladesh National Party and some other political parties boycotted the elections, expressing a lack of trust in the process.
Voters were reportedly pressured to vote by ruling party members and threatened with violence and loss of their social protection benefits if they failed to do so, they alleged.

UN experts included Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, special rapporteur on the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Margaret Satterthwaite, special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Irene Khan, special rapporteur on the protection and promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, Priya Gopalan, chair-rapporteur, Matthew Gillett, vice-chair on communications, Ganna Yudkivska, vice-chair on follow-up and Miriam Estrada-Castillo, and Mumba Malila,  Working Group on arbitrary detention.

They urged the government to carry out major human rights reforms to reverse repressive trends in the country and restore political dialogue and participation, as it enters its fourth consecutive term.

The experts said that this would also reassure foreign investors and send a clear message to the world that the Bangladesh government is committed to upholding its international legal obligations.