Friday, February 01, 2008

Bangladesh: Military Rule Marked by Abuses

Human Rights Watch 2008 Report highlights the impunity of Security Forces

THE MILITARY-BACKED interim government in Bangladesh has failed to hold its security forces accountable for committing serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2008.

“Sadly, 2007 marked serious setbacks for human rights in Bangladesh,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Bangladesh’s interim government used the pretext of emergency rule to continue a historic pattern of impunity, with widespread allegations of security forces arresting, detaining, even killing civilians.”

The interim government has claimed to stamp out organized crime and high-level corruption among members of the economic and political elite. As a result, tens of thousands of people were arrested in the weeks following the declaration of a state of emergency on January 11, 2007. Security forces have flouted standard arrest and detention procedures, claiming these are not required under the emergency rules. Thousands have been arbitrarily detained and tried in breach of international fair trial standards. The interim government has severely interfered in fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly and association.

Several journalists and nongovernmental organization workers have reportedly been threatened and intimidated by the army, intelligence agencies or paramilitary groups, warning them against defaming the army or the government.

“The harassment and intimidation of numerous journalists and activists has instilled enough fear that the media is now censoring itself, especially when it comes to the military,” said Pearson.

In its World Report 2008, Human Rights Watch surveys the human rights situation in more than 75 countries. Human Rights Watch identified many human rights challenges in need of attention, including atrocities in Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan’s Darfur region, as well as closed societies or severe repression in Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Abuses in the “war on terror” featured in France, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, among others.

The World Report 2008 includes essays on China’s foreign policy; how activists helped create the Yogyakarta Principles for gay rights; the scourge of violence against children at school, in the home, on the streets and in institutions; and the British government’s erosion of the torture ban through “diplomatic assurances” against ill-treatment. #

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Bangladesh, please visit:

The full document of Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2008, please click the link