Int’l rights groups for UN intervention in enforced disappearances in Bangladesh

Staff Correspondent

Three international rights organisations on Tuesday called for the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances intervention in the ongoing enforced disappearances in Bangladesh and a visit to the country.
Asian Legal Resource Centre, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances made the urge in an intervention before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, said a release.
In the statement at the 30th session of the council on behalf of the three international rights groups, ALRC official Md Ashrafuzzaman said, ‘We urge the Working Group to request a visit to the country, and the Bangladeshi authorities to accept such a visit as a matter of urgency.’
He said that between January 2009 and August 2015, human rights groups had documented at least 212 people forcibly disappeared in the country.
Many witnesses have testified law enforcement agencies’ involvement in these cases, and the pattern of abductions and the profiles of victims suggest that disappearances are used by the government to silence political opponents, the statement said.
Efforts by victims’ families to obtain information or justice have been ignored by the police and the courts; impunity is the norm. Recent attempts by families to commemorate their disappeared loved ones have been met with intimidation and restrictions on expression and assembly, it said.
It said, ‘We call for the return of the disappeared to their families, and remind the Bangladeshi authorities of their responsibility to fully investigate and ensure justice for these crimes. Bangladesh has ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC; therefore it legally recognises enforced disappearance as an international crime, and is bound to ensure accountability.’
The 1992 Declaration on the Protection of All Persons Against Involuntary Disappearances, affirms that ‘each State shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent and terminate acts of enforced disappearance in any territory under its jurisdiction.’
The authorities of Bangladesh are obligated to ensure thorough investigation, prosecution, and punishment for perpetrators, with the ultimate goal of ending enforced disappearances, the statement said.
The right of families of victims and of rights defenders to speak out and peacefully assemble must be respected and protected, it said.

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