Acting UN rights chief urges Bangladesh to ensure freedom of expression, peaceful assembly

13 September 2022
Acting UN rights chief urges Bangladesh to ensure freedom of expression, peaceful assembly

Nada Al- Nashif


Staff Reporter :
The UN High Commission for Human Rights again reiterated the independent mechanism to investigate the allegations of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, by the law enforcement agencies, particularity by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
The Commission also told the government of Bangladesh to ensure freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and the security forces should refrain from excessive force against protests.
Nada Al- Nashif, UN Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights said this at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
"During the first ever visit by a High Commissioner to Bangladesh last month, the former High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet encouraged the establishment of an independent, specialised mechanism to investigate allegations of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, by law enforcement agencies, particularly by the Rapid Action Battalion," Nada said.
Urging the government of Bangladesh, she said, "In the polarising environment ahead of the next elections, it will be vital for the government to ensure freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and for security forces to refrain from using excessive force against protests."
Even she said that the human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and victims' families should not face reprisals or sanctions for their advocacy work.
Reminding the visit of the former High Commissioner, she said "The former High Commissioner discussed a full range of concerns with the authorities and offered OHCHR's support to review restrictive laws governing on-line expression."
Earlier on August 17, Michelle Bachelet in a press conference in Dhaka called upon the government of Bangladesh to form an independent body to investigate the allegations over the extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance in the country.
"Various UN human rights mechanisms - including the UN Committee Against Torture, have been raising concerns for several years about allegations of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killing, torture, many of which have been attributed to the Rapid Action Battalion, and the lack of accountability for such violations," she added.
But when Michelle Bachelet in a press conference in Geneva on August 25 did not mention directly the human rights situation in Bangladesh or any other country, the Bangladesh government expressed satisfaction over her speech by saying that she did express concern about the human rights situation in Bangladesh.
On August 27, in a reaction Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal  told the journalists:  "The report presented by Michelle Bachelet proves there is no concern about the human rights situation in Bangladesh."
But Monday's press conference of Nada, the UN Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, again reminded the government of Bangladesh about the specialised mechanism to investigate the allegations of human rights violations by law enforcers, especially by RAB.
During her press conference, Nada talked about the human rights situations of different countries including Bangladesh.
Before concluding her speech she said that the coming months are 'a critical test to political will'.
"When galvanised through multilateral and concerted action, by building bridges rather than sowing division, political commitment that is grounded in international human rights standards can propel us forward towards more just and equal societies," she added.
She also reminded upholding collective commitment to the enduring principle that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

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