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BANGLADESH: State appears bankrupt in protecting rights

December 9, 2011
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A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the Occasion of the International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011

International Human Rights Day is going to be 'observed' in Bangladesh amidst numerous victims facing gross abuses of human rights without an access to legal remedies from the existing criminal justice system. On the eve of the Human Rights Day the Asian Human Rights Commission has launched the annual human rights situation report on Bangladesh for the year 2011. The report titled BANGLADESH: Rulers establish an illusion of rule of law and democracy to deprive people by all means is available online at the website of the AHRC: www.humanrights.asia. The prevailing situation appears to be much worse than what has been documented by the AHRC and included in the report. A finalised printed version of the report will be available by the end of the year.

Sadly, the AHRC has to reiterate that the incidents of enforced disappearance, custodial torture, extrajudicial killings, secret killings, illegal arrest, arbitrary detention and fabricating charges against persons by State agents continue and even set new records in terms of the gravity of the problems. The judicial institutions were found engaged in keeping and hunting lucrative jobs, and hardly dare to provide an effective sustainable remedy against State-sponsored abuses. The institutions provisioned for registering complaints, prosecuting the perpetrators and holding a fair trial for ensuring justice do not function at all.

The media professionals struggle to enjoy freedom of expression while the freedom of assembly for the opposition always come under direct physical attacks by the law-enforcing agents. Human rights Defenders are under physical attacks and manifold harassments by the state agents. The government controlled law-enforcing agents, security forces and intelligence agencies habitually keep denying the allegations against their members and tend to further harass the complainants and victims who dare to seek remedy. The ruling regime extends its utmost endorsement and blatant impunity to the perpetrators for gaining its narrow political agenda at the cost of the lives of many ordinary people. The opposition appears to be awaiting new opportunities of criticising the ruling regime merely for achieving one more chance to return to the power without any visible commitment to resolve the real problems that have been rooted to the systems of the State.

The high ranking public figures like the Prime Minister and ministers of the country compete with each other by making pledges in rhetorical speeches to the public, conventionally. Instead of implementing the pledges, the Prime Minister appeared to be the biggest saviour of the perpetrators of gross violation of human rights by publicly endorsing impunity. In fact, the victims of gross human rights abuses have no place to go for a consolation or a remedy let alone justice. The pledges remain unfulfilled for years. Torture and custodial death have not been criminalised despite the fact that a parliamentary committee unanimously recommended to legislate a Bill, which has been pending for more than two years in the House.

The AHRC urges the civil society and the governmental authorities to listen to the real victims who have been sustaining atrocities at the hands of the State-agents. Inexpressible frustrations prevail among the victims for having been repeatedly denied from access to justice. All these have created extreme form of distrust to the governance and criminal justice system of the country. This situation requires utmost attention from everyone. The nation must start wider discourse on how to initiate thorough reforms of the dysfunctional institutions.

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