Get Informed, Stay Inspired

Bangladesh: Citing ‘dangerous decline’ of human rights, experts urge key reforms
Asia Pacific World News

Bangladesh: Citing ‘dangerous decline’ of human rights, experts urge key reforms

The experts appointed by the Human Rights Council have issued a statement in response to the recent election victory of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She won her fourth term in office, although there was controversy surrounding her win due to the main opposition party’s decision to boycott the election.

Ms. Hasina and her political party, the Awami League, emerged victorious in the 300 contested parliamentary seats. However, the elections were marred by violent protests which resulted in numerous casualties, including members of the opposition party.

According to human rights experts, approximately 25,000 individuals who opposed the government were detained, and some endured torture and were denied medical care. Members of the press and other media personnel also faced physical assault.

According to reports, certain voters were coerced by members of the ruling party to vote and were warned of potential violence and revocation of their social welfare benefits if they did not comply.

The experts pointed out that there has not been any impartial inquiries conducted regarding the accusations.

Alarming situation

The independent experts expressed concern over reports of numerous attacks, harassment, and intimidation against civil society, human rights defenders, journalists, and political activists during the recent elections.

They have sent a letter to the Government, urging officials to promptly and independently investigate the many reports of rights violations and abuses.

They stated that the Government should make human rights reforms a top priority in its upcoming work plan and establish a supportive atmosphere for the unrestricted and secure practice of fundamental freedoms and political involvement to regain public confidence in the democratic process.

The experts stated that this would also provide reassurance to foreign investors in the economy of Bangladesh, and demonstrate its dedication to fulfilling its legal responsibilities on a global scale.

Action points

They urged the authorities to promptly and unconditionally free all civil society and political activists who have been arrested without any charges. They also demanded fair trials and significant changes to be made in order to safeguard the impartiality and autonomy of the legal system.

They emphasized the importance of protecting freedom of speech and assembly, as well as promoting a pluralistic, diverse, and unbiased media.

Independent experts

The concerned experts who expressed their opinions included Special Rapporteurs on the right to peaceful assembly, on the autonomy of judges and lawyers, on defenders of human rights, and on the right to freedom of thought and expression.

The Chair and members of the Working Group on unjust imprisonment also participated in the request for change.

The UN Human Rights Council appoints Special Rapporteurs, Working Group members, and other independent experts who make up its Special Procedures.

They are required to oversee and disclose information regarding designated topics or situations in various countries and operate on a voluntary basis. They hold their positions as individuals, are not employed by the United Nations, and do not receive payment.