UN urges BD to hold HR violators accountable

Published January 5, 2019
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emerged the clear winner in the controversial BD polls. — File
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emerged the clear winner in the controversial BD polls. — File

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations has called upon the authorities in Bangladesh to hold accountable all those responsible for alleged human rights violations “before, during and after” the Dec 30 elections.

In a statement released in Geneva on Thursday, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR} said: “There are credible reports of fatalities and numerous injuries on polling day alone.”

“There are worrying indications that reprisals have continued to take place, notably against the political opposition, including physical attacks and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests, harassment, disappearances and filing of criminal cases,” Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson, said.

There are reports of disproportionate “violent attacks and intimidation” by activists of the ruling Awami League and, in some cases, with the involvement of law enforcement Officials, the official added. “We call on the authorities to take urgent measures to prevent further reprisals.”

Ms Shamdasani cited reports of media intimidation and property damage, as well as other constraints that hindered reporting on the elections. She said at least two journalists covering the elections were arrested under the Digital Security Act, which, according to news reports, suppresses free speech and press freedom.

Moreover, since Dec 10, 54 news and other websites have been blocked and temporary internet restrictions around election day constrained freedom of expression, she said.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2019

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