BANGLADESH: Continued Enforced Disappearances need to be urgently addressed

We call for the return of the disappeared to their families, and remind the Bangladeshi authorities of their responsibility to fully investigate and ensure justice for these crimes. Bangladesh has ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC; therefore it legally recognizes enforced disappearance as an international crime, and is bound to ensure accountability.

A  Joint Oral Statement to the 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), FIDH, AFAD on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

Mr. President,

The Asian Legal Resource Centre, FIDH and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances thank the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances for its work and call its attention to ongoing enforced disappearances in Bangladesh and the impunity and repression associated with these crimes.

Between January 2009 and August 2015, human rights groups have documented at least 212 people forcibly disappeared in the country. Many witnesses have testified to the law enforcement agents’ involvement in these cases, and the pattern of abductions and the profiles of victims suggest that disappearances are used by the government to silence political opponents. Efforts by victims’ families to obtain information or justice have been ignored by the police and the courts; impunity is the norm. Recent attempts by families to commemorate their disappeared loved ones have been met with intimidation and restrictions on expression and assembly.

We call for the return of the disappeared to their families, and remind the Bangladeshi authorities of their responsibilities to fully investigate and ensure justice for these crimes. Bangladesh has ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC; therefore it legally recognizes enforced disappearance as an international crime, and is bound to ensure accountability.

Furthermore, the 1992 Declaration on the Protection of All Persons Against Involuntary Disappearances, affirms that “each State shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent and terminate acts of enforced disappearance in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

The authorities of Bangladesh are obligated to ensure thorough investigation, prosecution, and punishment for perpetrators, with the ultimate goal of ending enforced disappearances. The rights of families of victims and of rights defenders to speak out and peacefully assemble must be respected and protected.

We urge the Working Group to request a visit to the country, and the Bangladeshi authorities to accept such a visit as a matter of urgency.

Thank you for your attention.

UN Web TV Link.

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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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