BANGLADESH: Ritualistic UPR mechanism fails to protect and promote human rights

An Oral Statement to the 39th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)

Mr. President.

Since the inception of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and amidst the continuation of the 3rd cycle of UPR the ALRC observes many States’ failure to prove their sincerity and respect for this review mechanism.

During the UPR report adoption on Bangladesh, last week, the State failed to accept the recommendation on ratification of the convention on enforced disappearances. It responded that:

It “does not agree to the proposition that ‘extra-judicial killings’ or ‘enforced disappearances’ occur frequently in Bangladesh. In fact, the legal system of Bangladesh does not recognize any term, such as, ‘enforced/ forced disappearance.’”

Under international law, the systematic practice of enforced disappearance is of the very nature of the ‘crime against humanity’. Bangladesh’s law-enforcement agencies have been consistently disappearing citizens since 2009. Despite hundreds of enforced disappearances, the State uses the excuse of not having a legal provision to define it as a crime. The attitude of blatant unilateral denial does not comply with the original objectives of the UPR as enshrined in the Human Rights Council’s Resolution 5/1 (A/HRC/RES/5/1). As a result, the UPR on Bangladesh has hardly contributed to improving human rights situation on the ground. We call on Bangladesh to acknowledge the cases of enforced disappearances in the country and improve its cooperation with the UPR mechanism by implementing the recommendations including responding positively to the repeatedly disregarded visit requests made by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Web TV Video Link: (Please scroll down on the list of speakers on the right hand side and click on clip number 53 to find Asian Legal Resource Centre)

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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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