Odhikar, Bangladesh: Enforce Human Rights Protect Vulnerable Sections, Minorities

Odhikar, a Bangladesh based human rights organization has released its annual report on the State of Human Rights in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Minorities 

The detailed report has the following recommendations:
1. In order to restore democracy and the voting rights of the people, an accountable government must be established through free fair and inclusive elections, under neutral interim government; and initiatives must be taken to fix dysfunctional institutions through an elected government.
2. Incidents of extrajudicial killings and torture by law enforcement agencies must be investigated and the perpetrators must be brought to effective justice. The law enforcement agencies must follow international guidelines “Basic Principals on the use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials” and the “UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials”. The Government must ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; and effectively implement the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013.
3. The Government has to investigate and explain all incidents of enforced disappearance and post-disappearance killings, allegedly perpetrated by law enforcement agencies. All victims of enforced disappearance should be returned to their families. The Government must bring the members of the
security and law enforcement agencies who are involved, to justice before the law. Odhikar urges the government to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the UN General Assembly.
4. The Government should refrain from carrying out repressive, unconstitutional activities. Mass arrests and human rights violations in custody and jail should cease immediately. Filing of cases against ‘unknown’ persons leading to willful arrests, must also be stopped.
5. Repressive and violative interference to freedom of expression and on the media must be stopped. The Government must withdraw cases filed against all human rights defenders and journalists; and it should also bring the perpetrators to justice through proper investigation. The ban on the publication of the daily Amar Desh and the broadcasting of Diganta TV, Islamic TV and Channel One should be removed.
6. All repressive and abusive laws, including the Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006 (amendment 2009 and 2013) and the Special Powers Act, 1974 must be repealed. Monitoring of the social media and internet, leading to arrests and harassment and human rights violations,
should be stopped. Repressive sections of the newly passed Foreign Donation (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Act 2016, which are tantamount to violations of freedom of expression and association, must be repealed.
7. Attacks and repression on all minority community citizens must stop. The Government should take all measures to protect the rights of the citizens belonging to religious, ethnic and linguistic minority communities and ensure their security. The government should bring the perpetrators of Nasirnagar and Gobindaganj attacks to justice through proper investigation.
8. The Ready-made garment factories need to be brought under synchronized security programmes and the factories should be made with adequate infrastructural and other facilities. Violations of human rights of workers/labourers and harassment to them by the Industrial Police must be
9. The Government must ensure the effective implementation of laws to stop violence against women and children and the offenders must be effectively punished under prevalent laws. The Government should also execute mass awareness programmes in the print and electronic media, in order to eliminate violence against women and put perpetrators to justice.
10. The Government should protest strongly against human rights violations on Bangladeshi citizens by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and take initiatives to investigate and make the Indian Government accountable and compensate the families of the victims. The Government must also ensure the safety and security of the Bangladeshi citizens residing at the border areas. The Indian Government should refrain from shifting fences near the zero line along the border thus violating international law.
11. Construction of the destructive coal-based power plant in Rampal, initiated jointly by India and Bangladesh must be stopped. The Bangladesh Government should take measures to stop the inter-river connecting project as it is as detrimental to the people and territory of Bangladesh, as is the
Rampal power plant. India must also not open or close the sluice gates of Farakka and Gajaldoba barrages unilaterally for the sake of its own benefit.
12. The international community must take effective action against the human rights violations on the Rohingya community who are victims of ethnic cleansing; and the Bangladesh government and international community should support and provide shelter and security to the Rohingya refugees.
13. The case filed against Odhikar’s Secretary and its Director under the Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006 (Amended in 2009) must be withdrawn. All repressive measures and harassment against human rights defenders associated with Odhikar should cease. The government must release the funds of Odhikar to enable it to continue its human rights activities.



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