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EU for independent EC to see participatory Bangladesh polls
Thursday, 22 December 2016

The European Union has urged Bangladesh to form an \"independent, impartial, non-partisan and highly-qualified\" election commission for holding the next general elections in a fully participatory way.

The call came from a biennial joint meeting of the EU-Bangladesh sub-group on good governance and human rights in Brussels on Tuesday.

The EU reiterated its position at a time when the president is holding dialogue with the country\'s political parties, ahead of the expiry of the election commission in February, to recontitute the next one.

The EU also expressed concerns over extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, the death penalty, freedom of association and freedom of expression, and overall on shrinking space for civil society.

The EU further raised the situation of minorities, child labour and domestic violence, at the meeting, according to a press release.

The EU recognised the long-standing solidarity of Bangladesh with those fleeing violence in Myanmar.

The EU urged Bangladesh not to deport them or turn them back, but to provide assistance and protection until the situation stabilises and their safe return can be ensured, thus contributing to the stability of the region.

The EU encouraged Bangladesh to issue a standing invitation to UN special procedure mandate holders to visit Bangladesh, to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all persons from enforced disappearance and optional protocols to the conventions on torture.

The EU called for protecting rights of the child, rights of persons with disabilities, eliminating all forms of discrimination against women, and upholding civil and political rights.

The EU noted the progress made so far under the Sustainability Compact, but urged that more needed to be done.

Drawing attention to a warning relating to freedom of association, the EU said Bangladesh needs to urgently improve respect for this fundamental right.

The EU urged Bangladesh to address as a matter of urgency acts of violence and harassment against trade unionists and trade union leaders, and guarantee investigation of these acts.

These issues will be further discussed at the EU-Bangladesh joint commission, to be held in Brussels in the first half of 2017, said the press release.

The EU consulted with Bangladesh\'s civil society ahead of the dialogue, holding meetings with NGOs.

The EU delegation was led by Veronica Cody, head of Division Regional Affairs, in the European External Action Service (EEAS) while the Bangladeshi delegation was led by Mohammad Shahidul Haque, secretary of the legislative and parliamentary affairs division of the law ministry.