Thirteen foreign ambassadors and mission chiefs in Dhaka on Friday expressed their grave concern about the death of Mushtaq Ahmed in custody and called for an independent inquiry on the matter.
The envoys who expressed their concern in a joint statement are representing 13 member countries of influential Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Mushtaq had been held in pre-trial detention since May 2020 under the provisions of the Digital Security Act, they said in joint statement.
‘We understand that he had been denied bail on several occasions and that concerns had been raised about his treatment while he was imprisoned,’ they added.
They called on the government of Bangladesh to conduct a swift, transparent, and independent inquiry into the full circumstances of Mushtaq Ahmed’s death.
The envoys said they would continue to engage with the government of Bangladesh on wider concerns of their respective governments about the provisions and implementation of the DSA, and compatibility of the law with Bangladesh’s obligations under international human rights laws and standards.
The envoys also expressed their sincere condolences to Mushtaq’s family and friends.
The envoys who signed the statement are: Canadian high commissioner Benoit Préfontaine, Denish ambassador Winnie Estrup Petersen, EU ambassador Rensje Teerink, French ambassador Jean-Marin Schuh, German ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz, Italian ambassador Enrico Nunziata, Dutch ambassador Harry Verweij, Norwegian ambassador Espen Rikter-Svendsen, Spenish ambassador Francisco de Asis Benitez Salas, Swedish ambassador Alexandra Berg von Linde, Swiss Ambassador Nathalie Chuard, British high commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson and US ambassador Earl R Miller.
Writer Mushtaq died in Kashimpur High-Security Jail in Gazipur on Thursday night.
It was the first death of a person in prison after being detained under the Digital Security Act.
Mushtaq was denied bail six times, as police pressed a charge sheet in a Dhaka court against him, cartoonist Ahmed Kishore, and Rashtrachinta Dhaka coordinator Didarul Bhuiyan in a case under the DSA, said Mushtaq’s lawyer Abdullah Al Noman.
He was arrested on May 6, 2020, and later shifted to the high-security jail on August 24, 2020, from the Dhaka Central Jail.
In a case lodged on May 5, 2020, RAB-3 warrant officer Abu Bakar Siddique named 11 people, including Mushtaq and Kishore, and five to six unidentified people on charge of tarnishing the image of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, hurting the spirit of the liberation war and spreading rumours about COVID-19 on social media.
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