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Dhaka Tribune

Government duty-bound to check abduction: Sultana Kamal

Update : 30 Jul 2013, 08:42 AM

Human Rights Forum Bangladesh Convenor Sultana Kamal on Monday said the government is liable to stop rampant abductions that have taken place in recent years.

"The government has to take the responsibility of ensuring the safety of its citizens. Instead, the government is saying that abductions usually happen due to family issues or personal enmity," she said at a national seminar regarding the section on Bangladesh in the Universal Periodic Review Second Cycle published by the UN about the state of human rights.

She pointed out, since the country's legal framework has no definition or mention of "enforced disappearances" or alleged abductions by law enforcers; it is up to the government to mitigate it. The Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) Executive Director also voiced concerns against extrajudicial killings.

She also said: "We represent Bangladesh at the UN as a member country, not as a state or citizen. Therefore, we need to be alert about the happenings in the country as a whole, along with the violations of human rights."

Zakir Hossain, member of Human Rights Forum Bangladesh, presented a summary of the recommendations by the Members States on Universal Periodic Review Second Cycle-Bangladesh.

Bangladesh participated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process at the UN Human Rights Council on April 29, 2013 in the 16th Session of the UPR Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland.

The summary disclosed that 1,678 Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) members have faced prosecution and convictions including imprisonment and dismissal, which were not made public since the government felt that it might demoralise members of the force.

Law Commission Member Dr Shah Alam said "superiority" of the bureaucracy is "whipping" the government. Accusing the bureaucracy as the main culprit to make the government misunderstand most of the matters, he said, there is no risk if the government signs treaties like the one regarding the CHT.

Afterwards, in the panel discussion on civil and political rights, which was moderated by Sultana Kamal, adviser of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Dr Zahidul Islam Biswas and Advocate Khondoker Shahriar Shakir emphasised on harassment by the police and on freedom of opinion and expression.

The speakers said police personnel do not care about the force's defamation.

In another panel discussion on economic social and cultural rights, moderated by Zakir Hossain, speakers and participants discussed the prevalent rights of society.

MM Akash, professor of the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, said: "Education tax should be levied on the rich as they are enjoying tremendous subsidies."

In reply to Save the Children's Nazneen Shifa's question, MM Akash said: "We can't measure the actual shock effect as it [the review] is done once every five years. We do not have food ration for the poor people rather for the colonel, brigadier and soldier."

Suraiya Begum, secretary of the Ministry of Social Welfare said a survey has been started in June to identify the disabled persons of the country. After the completion of the survey in August, physically challenged people will get treatment after being registered.

Advocate Md Shamsuddin of Human Rights Lawyers' Society said, at least 450,000 slum dwellers are excluded from getting basic rights.

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