The past year, regrettably, has been a bad one for human rights.
Stories of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, political violence, and violence on minority communities have appeared on the pages of this newspaper all too frequently, and people in general feel that their basic human rights are not being safeguarded.
As we move into 2018, a priority for our leaders should be to clean up the messy human rights situation in the country, and assure the people that their rights will be respected.
In order to safeguard human rights, however, it is absolutely imperative that the freedom of the press is respected, and journalists can do their job without undue harassment or fear of persecution.
Last year, some 122 journalists faced repression and assault at the hands of law enforcement officials, influential people, local representatives, and other government officials.
It is the duty of the press to hold a democratic government accountable for its actions, and freedom of speech and right to information are the cornerstones of good governance.
Last year saw 54 people being sued under Section 57 of the ICT Act, which sets an alarming precedence for the health of freedom of speech in the country.
If Bangladesh is serious about its development goals, then it simply cannot afford to ignore the elephant in the room that is human rights -- people must be protected, and those who violate human rights must be brought to book without delay.
Bangladesh did a noble thing by offering refuge to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya last year. Let us also remember to guarantee and protect the rights of our own citizens.