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Killings by security forces major HR issue in Bangladesh: US United News of Bangladesh . Dhaka
Friday, 25 May 2012
The United States on Thursday said the most significant human rights problems in Bangladesh were killings and torture by security forces.
This was stated in the Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2011 released by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in Washington. The report also said that widespread official corruption remained a serious problem.
It said other human rights problems included abuses by security forces, which were responsible for disappearances, custodial deaths, and arbitrary arrest and detention.
The report said impunity continued to be a serious problem in several areas. Most members of the security forces acted with impunity, the Rapid Action Battalion in particular.
It said the government did not take comprehensive measures to investigate cases of security force killings.
‘Widespread official corruption and related impunity continued,’ the report said, adding that punishment of officials who committed abuses was predominantly limited to officials perceived to be opponents of the AL-led government.
The report identified as problems societal violence and discrimination against women, despite recent progress in their economic and social status; and the government’s discrimination against and failure to protect indigenous persons from societal violence.
It said prison conditions at times were life threatening, and lengthy pre-trial detention continued to be a problem.
‘An increasingly politicised judiciary exacerbated problems in an already overwhelmed judicial system and constrained access to justice for members of opposition parties. Authorities infringed on citizens’ privacy rights,’ the report said.
It said there were instances in which the government limited freedom of speech and press, self-censorship continued, and security forces harassed journalists.
‘The government curbed freedom of assembly, and politically motivated violence remained a problem.’
It said violence against children remained a serious problem, as did trafficking in persons.
Discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation remained a problem. Limits on worker rights, child labour, and unsafe working conditions also remained problems.
Hillary submitted the 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (Human Rights Reports) to the United States Congress.
The reports record the state of human rights throughout the world in 2011.
The report said law in Bangladesh provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but the government did not implement the law effectively and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
Referring to a 2010 report by the World Bank, it said the government tried to undercut the authority of the ACC and severely hampered the prosecution of corruption throughout the country.
The reports stated that the government had filed far fewer corruption cases than the caretaker government had and that a government commission had recommended that the ACC drop thousands of corruption cases, mostly involving AL members.
It said members of civil society stated that the government was not serious about fighting corruption and that the ACC was used for politically motivated persecutions.
The report said Transparency International Bangladesh asserted that political interference in the ACC’s operations had rendered it a ‘toothless tiger’.
Citing an example, it said on August 8, the ACC filed a case against the leader of the opposition in parliament, Khaleda Zia, and three others, alleging that they abused power to set up a charitable trust named after late president Ziaur Rahman. The opposition BNP termed the case ‘baseless and politically motivated’.
A review committee, headed by the state minister for law, justice, and parliamentary affairs, recommended withdrawal of politically motivated cases that the government and the ACC had filed prior to 2009.
The report said the committee recommended the withdrawal of approximately 1,817 cases, filed mostly against AL leaders, including all the cases filed against Sheikh Hasina.
The report said, ‘The judiciary was subject to political pressure from the government, and cases involving opposition leaders often proceeded in an irregular fashion.’
‘In several cases the appellate division overturned decisions granting bail to high-level corruption suspects who were leaders of opposition parties.’
The report said, ‘Corruption remained a serious problem within the judiciary. Corruption was a factor in lengthy delays of trials, which were subject to witness tampering and intimidation of victims.’