Odhikar finds rights situation amid COVID-19 worrying

158 extrajudicial killings, 25 killings by BSF

Staff Correspondent | Published: 01:01, Jul 07,2020


Rights watchdog Odhikar has said that the human rights situation in the country during COVID-19 period was extremely worrying while the country witnessed violations of civil and political rights, including state repression.Dhaka

‘During this period, the government brought social media under scrutiny to curb citizens’ right to freedom of speech, thought, conscience and expression,’ the rights watchdog said in its ‘Three-month Human Rights Monitoring Report on Bangladesh’ released on Monday.Dhaka

The report shows that a total of 158 people became victims of extrajudicial killings in the first six months of the current year – 23 people in January, 26 in February, 37 in March, 14 in April, 29 in May and 29 others in June – and a total of 13 people became victims of enforced disappearance during the period.Dhaka

The report showed that at least 25 Bangladeshis were killed by Indian Border Security Force along Bangladesh-India frontier during the period while 17 others were injured and three others were abducted by BSF.Dhaka

It said that a total of 96 people were arrested under Digital Security Act 2018 in the first six months, 86 per cent of whom were arrested between April and June.Dhaka

‘In the April-June quarter, the government carried out persecution, violating freedoms of speech, thought, conscience and expression, with the aim to prevent free flow of information during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although various incidents were not published in the print media due to pressure on the mass media, they have been circulated on social media,’ the report said. Dhaka

‘Due to this, the government also brought the social media under extensive surveillance. Several websites have been shut down in Bangladesh for criticising the government. The government has compiled a long list of people from different walks of life, including university teachers, bureaucrats, local and foreign journalists, intellectuals, political leaders and businessmen, who have been accused of creating rumours and conspiracies about the government’s failures and shortcomings in containing COVID-19 spread,’ it said.Dhaka

During the first half of this year, at least 78 journalists were victimised – 40 of them were injured, 18 assaulted, 12 abducted and eight others were threatened, the report said.Dhaka

Besides, 31 people were killed and 1,036 others were injured in political violence across the country in the six months, while 363 girls under 18 years and 199 women were raped, according to the report.Dhaka

The report said that 71 females faced sexual harassment or stalking while 12 became victims of acid violence and 23 people became victims of lynching.Dhaka

According to the report, 2 readymade garment workers were killed and 119 others were injured while 35 informal sector workers were killed and 77 injured in the first six months of the ongoing year.

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