BANGLADESH: Citizens and the UN deceived

Contrary to the assurance to the UN and against the domestic law in Bangladesh, negating due process, the Government of Bangladesh has thus far withdrawn 6855 cases of murder, rape, robbery, corruption, extortion and the keeping of illegal arms. The excuse cited while executing the ‘crown prerogative’ by the government is that all these cases are ‘politically motivated.’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE

ALRC-PRL-005-2012

A Joint Press Release by Odhikar and the Asian Legal Resource Centre

BANGLADESH: Citizens and the UN deceived

(Hong Kong, October 10, 2012): The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and Odhikar, a national human rights organisation based in Bangladesh, have jointly submitted a report to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review (UN, UPR) concerning Bangladesh. Odhikar and the ALRC filed the report yesterday, 9 October 2012. The report establishes, through illustrations and analysis, that the Government of Bangladesh is not honest in meeting its human rights mandate. The report critically questions Bangladesh’s commitment in implementing the observations and recommendations made during the first UPR cycle that was held in 2009.

Bangladesh will undergo its second UPR cycle between 22 April and 3 May in 2013. Human rights organisations working from within and outside Bangladesh have filed similar reports to the UN on Bangladesh in preparation for the second cycle of review. Thematic mandate holders like the UN Rapporteurs and UN Working Groups have also filed their reports. The last date for filing the report was 9 October 2012.

During the first UPR session, 42 recommendations were made of which Bangladesh accepted 34. The original document at the UN could be accessed here: UPR Working Group’s Report and Addendum of Bangladesh. During the first session, the Minister of Foreign Affairs promised the people of Bangladesh and the international community that his country has “zero tolerance” to torture, extrajudicial executions and custodial deaths. Despite the solemn statement, the number of instances of torture, custodial deaths and extrajudicial executions reported from Bangladesh has not reduced. In fact the government has tried its best to silence those who reported such cases from the country. The government, though has accepted the request for visit from the UN Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, it is yet to arrange for the visit.

Over the past four years the country’s cooperation with the international human rights mechanisms has not improved and remains inadequate. For a state that is a member in the UN Human Rights Council, such neglect is not just inappropriate, but is an act of dishonesty. For instance, the country is yet to submit its periodic reports to the Committee against Torture; Human Rights Committee; and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the UN. In fact, the country has missed the fourth deadline extension set by the CAT Committee for submission of the periodic report. The Convention against Torture, ratified by Bangladesh in 1998, required the country to file its report to the CAT in 1999. The report was due on 11 April 1999 that was extended to 11 April 2003 and further to 11 April 2007 and the latest to 11 April 2011.

Contrary to the assurance to the UN and against the domestic law in Bangladesh, negating due process, the Government of Bangladesh has thus far withdrawn 6855 cases of murder, rape, robbery, corruption, extortion and the keeping of illegal arms. The excuse cited while executing the ‘crown prerogative’ by the government is that all these cases are ‘politically motivated.’ If this is true then it only exposes the height of misuse of investigation agencies in Bangladesh. If the excuse is not true such massive number of withdrawal of cases, undermines the very notion of justice and the victims’ right for remedies.

During the first UPR process the government claimed that it “is committed to end all extra-judicial activities by law enforcement agencies, and will bring any official found responsible for such actions to justice.” In reality, however, more than five hundred extrajudicial executions undertaken by the state agents are reported from the country since 2009. Due to the blanket impunity enjoyed by the law enforcement agencies in the country from investigation and prosecution, the number of enforced disappearances has gone up in the recent months unabatedly.

The incumbent government has more than 300 out of 350 seats in the national parliament. However, its laxity and absence of commitment to end torture and extrajudicial execution in the country is evident from the non-passing of the Bill pending before the parliament to criminalise torture and extrajudicial executions.

The complete report jointly submitted by Odhikar and the ALRC is available here.

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About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

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The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.

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