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UN Rights Director Calls for Independent Investigation into Bangladesh Disappearances

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday called on the Bangladesh government to establish an "impartial, independent and transparent inquiry" into allegations of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture. I was.

At a press conference to conclude his four-day visit to Bangladesh, Michelle Bachelet also called on South Asian governments to commit to an international treaty for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. urged to ratify.

"Bangladesh is a party to all the major UN human rights treaties, except for that," she said, adding that "continuing alarming allegations of short- and long-term enforced disappearances and I am concerned about the lack of due process and judicial protection.

Inviting the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances to Bangladesh "shows our commitment to addressing this issue resolutely," said Bachelet.

The UN Rights Director-General traveled to Bangladesh on Sunday to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, other ministers, civil society, rights activists and families of alleged victims of rights abuses.

She also visited a Rohingya refugee camp in the southern district of Cox Bazar to meet Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh in the face of persecution and killings by the Myanmar military.

On Wednesday, she attended a press conference at a hotel in Dhaka to discuss the findings.

Rights Violations Investigation

Bachelet told journalists that she was deeply concerned about serious allegations of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture with government officials. expressed concern, she said.

She told ministers, "Given long-standing complaints about lack of progress, we will work closely with victims, families and civil society to investigate allegations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings." He called for the establishment of "coordinating, more professional mechanisms" in investigations and other obstacles to justice.

On Monday, several Bangladeshi rights activists urged Bachelet to press the government for the need for an independent commission to investigate extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

When asked about such a commission, she said that different countries have different mechanisms for addressing human rights violations.

“Some committees are judicial, others are independent. added that it would have "a definite mandate, resources, independence and power to do the job." We are ready to offer advice on how to design along,” she added. 40}

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet visits Rohingya refugee camp Uhia, Cox's Bazar District, Bangladesh, 16 August 2022.

Civil and Political Capacity

The United Nations Human Rights Report noted that in Reinforcement, intimidation, and reprisal often lead to self-censorship."

“Wanting to graduate from least developed country status is not only about improving GDP. It is also about strengthening the capacity of civil institutions,” she said in response to a question.

Ensuring “democratic and civic space, effective checks and balances, and accountability” is essential for Bangladesh to reach the next level of development. said Bachelet.

Maximize civil and political space for Bangladesh, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, peaceful assembly of political activists and human rights defenders, citing national elections scheduled for next year. She said it will be an important time to , opposition, journalist.

"It is also important to ensure that law enforcement agencies have the necessary training to manage protests without resorting to excessive force," she said.

Bachelet was asked about her digital security in Bangladesh Sheikh Her Hasina government passed her 2018 law, which has been used to imprison politicians, journalists and others. rice field.

Bachelet said, "We recognize the need to regulate the online space, address online hate speech, disinformation, and combat cybercrime." It said it had submitted recommendations to the Bangladesh government "calling for the repeal and revision of certain provisions of the law with a view to ensuring compliance with international human rights law and standards and preventing their arbitrary application and misuse."

Hope for the Rohingya.

Bachelet welcomed the Bangladesh government's "impressive efforts" to host hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in neighboring Myanmar in 2017. It's exaggerated," she said.

However, she expressed concern about the increasing anti-Rohingya rhetoric in Bangladesh and the stereotyping and scapegoating of Rohingya as sources of crime and other problems.

“I call on the government and all Bangladeshi citizens to be vigilant against such harmful rhetoric, to actively combat misinformation based on facts and to increase understanding with the host community,” she said. said.

She also called on the government to expand "educational and livelihood opportunities" for children in the camps.

"I was encouraged to see the young girls and boys at the learning center participating in lively math and Burmese classes taught by members of the community," she said. Older Rohingya children, she said, have expressed frustration at the lack of educational facilities.

Bachelet said the current situation in Myanmar was not suitable for the repatriation of Rohingya. Only if safe and sustainable conditions exist in Myanmar, in a dignified way," she said.