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Odhikar: 2017 a detrimental year for human rights situation in Bangladesh

  • Published at 11:34 pm January 12th, 2018
Odhikar: 2017 a detrimental year for human rights situation in Bangladesh
Due to the failure of the Bangladesh government to implement the mandatory obligations of at least eight international conventions and treaties, 2017 served to be a detrimental year for the human rights situation in the country, said the annual report by rights group Odhikar. The organization’s Annual Human Rights Report-2017 was published on Friday. After assuming office in 2009, the Awami League-led government kept deviating from its election manifesto by adopting various repressive laws, and violating both civil and political rights, the report said. It further claimed that an authoritarian regime has been in place in Bangladesh, leading to endemic human rights violations throughout last year. The report was produced based on Odhikar’s own fact finding missions, as well as on information collected from various associated local human rights organizations in the country. Odhikar, who claim to have been facing severe repression and harassment from the Bangladesh government since 2013, said in the report that the rate of enforced disappearance in the country was alarmingly high last year. They also alleged that the government had used law enforcement officials to launch attacks on the opposition, as a result of which the attackers enjoyed impunity. Furthermore, a number of repressive laws were imposed in 2017, with the aim of silencing dissenting voices by accusing them of criminal acts such as sedition and defamation, according to the report. It claimed that the government had obstructed the freedom of the press by barring accurate and independent news reports from being published, also referring to a number of attacks on journalists by either criminals backed by the government or its supporters. Stating that the moral and legal foundation of the government has weakened due to the national polls in 2014, the report claimed India continued its aggression and control of Bangladesh by supporting the result. Regarding the upcoming 11th national election, Odhikar said the people of Bangladesh had lack of confidence in their organization and integrity, due to widespread irregularities in local government polls conducted by the Election Commission. Aiming to retain its power, the government is rejecting the demand for a level-playing field before the general election by suppressing and harassing opposition party leaders and activists through lawsuits, the report said. The government also stopped rallies organized by opposition parties, with some of their leaders and activists being forced to flee the country and seek political refuge abroad. Odhikar also expressed concerns regarding the rise of extremism and gross human rights violations in the name of “containing terrorism.”