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US report ‘heavily underplayed’ Dhaka’s accountability system over agencies

                       
প্রকাশিত: 9:42 PM, 17 April, 2022

The government today said the US human rights (HR) country report “heavily underplayed” Bangladesh’s existing system of accountability over law enforcement agencies while Dhaka remains “intensely engaged” with the UN mechanism and US recommendations to protect human rights.

“The Report appears to encourage creating a society of lawlessness to destabilize the society and the Government,” a statement of foreign ministry said here.

It added that the legal system of Bangladesh does not allow killing by arbitrary use of firearms.

The statement pointed that the death sentences to the 16 RAB officials in the Narayanganj seven-murder case and recent death sentences to two police officials in the Major Sinha murder case in Cox’s Bazar are examples of accountability and non-impunity to law enforcers.

“The magistrate requires members of the law enforcement agencies to account for every single use of firearms, without lawful explanation of which faces legal action,” it added.

Besides, it said, no act of arrest by the law enforcement agencies goes unaccountable bypassing the magistrate of the court.

“In each case, the magistrate decides whether an arrest is lawful or not. Therefore, the law enforcers don’t enjoy the immunity of commissioning ‘Arbitrary Arrest’,” said the statement.

Saying that the sources of the report are questionable, the statement said, there are also few factual errors in the Report.

As an example, the ministry said, “though we do not endorse their information, the Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) mentioned 275 extrajudicial killings in January-May 2018 period, while the US report wrongly cited ASK in mentioning that there were 606 extrajudicial killings in May-June 2018.”

The statement, however, said the Bangladesh government does not deny the fact that there are indeed a lot of areas of development to ensure better protection and promotion of human rights, and Dhaka is continuing to make steady strides towards that end.

It said the government underscores that there are certainly issues to adequately observe the standards of human rights while a gesture of cooperation with support for strengthening the capacity across the relevant systems would be helpful to address the gaps.

“The Government remains intensely engaged with the UN human rights mechanism, and receptive of constructive recommendations from all international development partners, including the USA,” said the statement.

Despite all challenges, it said, the Bangladesh government, for the sake of its own commitment made to the people, will continue its endeavors to improve the wellbeing and ensure the rights and dignity of its people.

The foreign ministry said the US report was critical about the status of prohibition of forced labour, but didn’t highlight how Bangladesh is progressively realizing the labour rights.

The statement said the report released by a country that ratified only 2 out of 8 fundamental conventions of ILO, whereas Bangladesh ratified all the 8 conventions.

“Bangladesh government is of the view that the tendency to impose values of a select few of other countries, like LGBT rights and same sex marriage in the name of human rights violations are regrettable and uncalled for,” read the statement.

The US report tried to capture broad range of issues, even including 2018 election, which compromised with substance and objectivity, said the ministry.

While referring to cases of enforced disappearance, the US report did not mention whether the families of the disappeared persons filed cases with the court to report ‘enforced’ disappearance at the time of the occurrence.

“In the absence of such case, or the victim family’s voluntariness of filing a case reporting disappearance, it is rather unlawful to conclude that law enforcement agencies abducted,” said the statement.

In fact, the ministry said, Bangladesh can also quote from many authentic sources on similar abuses and violations existing everywhere.

The US report also surprisingly mentioned a few Rohingya cases without adequate acknowledgement that the government continues to remain supportive of an environment respectful of the basic rights and well-being of Rohingyas, despite not being a Party to the 1951 Convention.

Also the report mentioned about deaths of Rohingyas in the high sea, the tragic incidents which do not have any relevance with Bangladesh’s efforts to ensure wellbeing, it added.

“When making critical observations and comments about the human rights situation in Bangladesh, the sources often chose to remain forgetful, juxtaposed to their ‘statistics’ of human rights issues,” read the statement.

The ministry said Bangladesh is a country of more than 170 million people which is making enormous people-centric development with an ultimate aim of progressively ensuring all human rights of its people in quality terms.

The USA released on April 13 “2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” worldwide saying that its State Department prepared the “fact-based” document in consultations with experts on workers’ rights, police and security issues, women’s issues, and other topics.

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