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ASK: Human rights paled next to economic performance in 2018

  • Published at 01:37 am January 11th, 2019
Ain O Salish Kendra

The rights group said the overall human rights situation deteriorated in 2018 as incidents of extrajudicial killings and attack on journalists increased

In 2018, Bangladesh continued to experience a tremendous upswing in economic development, while very little progress was made in human rights, according to Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK).

The rights group said the overall human rights situation deteriorated in 2018 as incidents of extrajudicial killings and attack on journalists increased. The notes were part of ASK's report titled “Human Rights Status of Bangladesh-2018: Observations of ASK” revealed on Thursday at Dhaka Reporters Unity.

The report was prepared based on information from different sources, including eight national dailies.

While presenting the report, ASK Coordinator Abu Ahmed FaizulKabir said despite some improvement in certain areas, civil and political rights in the country did not improve as expected.

According to the report, the number of extrajudicial killings, attack on journalists, political violence, and incidents of sexual harassment against children was higher than in 2017, with freedom of expression in particular suffering severe attacks last year regularly.

ASK Executive Director Sheepa Hafiza said: “Human rights conditions in any country should not deteriorate at such an alarming level. There should be measures to improve human rights for the sake of a country’s overall development.”

She urged the government to properly implement the promises made on national and international levelsto improve human rights in Bangladesh.

Sheepa said: “A combined effort from the government and the general people is required to create a culture of human rights in the country.”

Extrajudicial killings on the rise

There has been an alarming rise in cases of extrajudicial killings with 466 killed in 2018. 


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Among these killings, a total of 292 were killed across the country in anti-drug raids conducted by law enforcement agencies between May 4 to December 31.

It is a steep increase from 162 in 2017, 195 in 2016, 192 in 2015, 158 in 2014 and 208 in 2013.

Sheepa commented: “No one in this democratic and independent country has the jurisdiction to perform extrajudicial killings. We have been asking the government to form an independent commission to probe these killings. We have yet to see them respond."

Press freedom strangled

The rate of attacks on journalists increased by 70% in 2018.The report showed that the number of journalists being harassed has risen alarmingly from 122 in 2017 to 207 in 2018. Moreover, publication of 15 news reports led to lawsuits being filed.

Violence against children

Child rapes have gone up by 18% last year, with 444 reports in 2018 as compared to 377 in 2017. 

A total of 1,011 children suffered from different kinds of abuse last year, with 283 deaths of children reported. 108 children committed suicide and 28 children died under mysterious circumstances, the report further said.

Violence against women

The ASK report revealed that 732 women were raped in 2018, dropping from 818 in 2017.

Among the victims, 63 were killed after rape and seven committed suicide.Around 116 women were victims of sexual assaults in 2018, a figure which was 170 in 2017. 

About 195women became victims of dowry violence, 85 killed. Another 409 women reported they were victims of domestic violence.

Furthermore, seven women were victims of fatwa (illegal local rulings based on Shariah law).

In addition, 54 housemaids were abused, four were raped, 26 were physically tortured, and 18 among them died. 

Enforced disappearances continue

Arrests, abductions, and detentions by plainclothes men identifying themselves as members of law enforcement continued throughout the year.

But the instances declined from 60 in 2017 to 34 in 2018. 

Incidents of assault by law enforcement agencies on peaceful demonstrations and political movements were recorded as well.

Worker rights 

The number of worker deaths in the workplace rose as 484 accidents occurred killing 592 workers in 2018. This is a major increase as 437 workers were reported killed in 324 accidents in 2017. 

Political Violence 

Political violence escalated with 701 clashes, killing 67 and injuring 7,287. In 2017, 52 people were killed and 4,816 were injured in 364 clashes.