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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 243
November 05, 2011

This week's issue:
Law Opinion
Rights Corner
Human Rights Advocacy
Human Rights Report
Crime & Punishment
Your Advocate
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Human Rights Report

Denouncement of HR violations might not be continued

This is a summary of the Annual Report 2011 published by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. In this article we will discuss the relevant parts of the article which involved Bangladesh. The article focuses on different key issues of concern i.e., Political context, Reprisals against journalists denouncing corruption and human rights violations, Repression of human rights defenders and NGOs denouncing violations committed by security forces, and Obstacles to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Under the head of the political context the concern that has been raised is that of the matter that the Bangladesh Parliament has been working without the opposition since June 2010 when the opposition MPs walked out due to an arrest of a journalist from Amar Desh. In addition to this, although there has been massive criticism about extra-judicial killing, it continued throughout 2010-11. The successive Governments have showed reluctance to take action on this matter. Only in a phase of 3 months time (Jan-March), 33 persons were killed. Moreover, we are protected from ill treatment and torture under Article 35.5 of our Constitution but these are continuously used by the law enforcing authorities and this malpractice is not even illegal under the laws of Bangladesh. Despite the fact that torture is used in remand, Magistrates would admit evidence from remand periods. Violence has also been practiced by BSF of India but concerns were not raised by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her official visit to India in January 2010. Furthermore, on April 26, 2010, the Government approved the amendments to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act of 2004 which if effective, will increase corruption in the sense that permission of the Government would be required to bring a case against a Government official. However, on a positive note, Bangladesh ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 22, 2010. The Cabinet also ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (MWC) on April 11, 2011.

Under the heading of reprisals against journalists denouncing corruption and human rights violations, concerns have been raised regarding attacks on journalists who exposed breaches of human rights and corruption from time to time. Particularly, the staff of Amar Desh has been targeted by police and judiciary as they report on corruption cases and criticisms about the Government. The staff was charged of offences ranging from defamation to sedition and what not. Journalists were also victims of physical attacks and threats for reporting on human rights issues. For example, a staff member of Daily Probaho was stabbed and severely wounded by a group of unknown persons as he was returning home from his office. Two unidentified persons grabbed him close to the Bangobashi school at Khalishpur, while a group of seven or eight persons blindfolded him and stabbed him in the chest. On February 27, 2010, Mr. Khalilur Rahman Sumon lodged a complaint with the local police, which submitted its final report in December 2010.

Within the heading of repression of human rights defenders and NGOs denouncing violations committed by security forces, concerns have been raised about various harassments on journalists even including killings. Mr. Abdullah Al Farooq a lawyer and human rights defender with Odhikar who continuously raised voice against injustices and

corruption, was killed by unknown persons. He was killed on March 25, 2010 but even on April 2011 no investigation report has been submitted. Odhikar members also came under close scrutiny by the authorities and continued to be harassed by the security forces and the intelligence apparatus. On November 3, 2010, while checking on the status of one of Odhikar's projects in a Government office, Mr. Nasiruddin Elan was warned that “the government was extremely annoyed” with Odhikar; that the Secretary of Odhikar should “take care when travelling”; and that Odhikar's offices were constantly monitored by the Special Branch. Odhikar has been receiving regular phone calls and visits from Special Branch without any valid reason and the last date on which they received a phone call was December 26, 2010.

This report has highlighted many issues of concern and if the concerns are considered by the relevant authorities, then the efforts made in order to make this report would not go in vain.

-Compiled by Law Desk.


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