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Bangladesh: Government exposes its 'zero commitment' for people's rights

Asian Human Rights Commission Statement - December 10, 2012

The World Human Rights Day is being marked in Bangladesh, as it is being observed across the world, with tremendous frustration and hopelessness concerning the possibility to achieve justice from the criminal justice system of the country. Human Rights Day, on December 10, formally reminds the citizens of their denied and suppressed rights by the State organs.

The Government of Bangladesh, four years ago, represented by its Foreign Minister, claimed at the UN Human Rights Council's UPR Session on February 3, 2009, that it had 'zero tolerance' to extrajudicial killings, torture and other gross forms of human rights abuses. After almost four years in office the same government has not set a single example before its people, whom they pledged earlier, of bringing the perpetrators of human rights abuses to the book. On the eve of the Human Rights Day, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Mrs. Sheikh Hasina repeated the same rhetoric. On December 9, she sent an official statement to the press that her government wishes to establish "rule of law to protect people's lives and properties and freedom of expression".

In fact, the rhetoric of the Prime Minister sounds very hollow while her government has not investigated a single case of extrajudicial killings throughout the year or during the whole regime since she assumed office on January 6, 2009. Not a single case of enforced disappearances, which is increasing alarmingly in Bangladesh, has yet to be investigated credibly. Secret killings have been continuing without any answers made available by the authorities. The prosecution of the perpetrators of the State agents, who have committed crimes of violating fundamental human rights, remains a far reaching dream in the country. Instead, the authorities themselves have established their distrust in the criminal justice system by withdrawing thousands of criminal cases, and through playing the game of presidential clemency for pardoning convicts, to ensure impunity to their political offenders.

The higher judiciary is getting increasingly crippled with recruitment of persons having political loyalty to the regime that ultimately damages the very notion and existence of an independent judiciary. The country's policing system remains synonymous to coerciveness, as it has been in the past, to survive as an extended hand of the rulers to brutalise the political opposition, and ordinary citizens, of the country. The political environment appears to be extremely volatile and leading towards violent battles of retaining in, or grabbing, power. Exercising freedom of expression is a big challenge while several journalists were killed, threatened, harassed in the midst of attempts of closing dissident media houses while the State agents forced media authorities to block access or terminate the employment of outspoken journalists. The government, by all means, continued its deceptive actions against the people of Bangladesh.

The Asian Human Rights Commission releases its annual human rights situation report today with the title "BANGLADESH: Government's Deceptive Actions Continue" observing the situation. The detailed online version of the report can be available: http://www.humanrights.asia/resources/hrreport/2012/ahrc-spr-003-2012.pdf/view.

A revised version of this report will be available in printed version after the end of the year.

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