CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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Human rights report slams Bangladesh

DHAKA (UCAN): The information minister of Bangladesh, Hasanul Haq, has trashed the Bangladesh 2017 Human Rights Report from the State Department of the United States of America.
 
He called the report one-sided, unethical, baseless and fictitious, but Church officials say the report sheds lights on worsening violations.
 
“We reject the report as it was prepared without taking opinions, especially from the information, law and home ministries,” Haq told reporters on April 22. “The government does not support extrajudicial killings and therefore action would be taken against those involved in such killings.”
 
Published on April 20, the report said the most significant issues included extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary or unlawful detentions and forced disappearances by security forces, restrictions on civil liberties including freedom of speech, the media and the activities of non-government organisations (NGOs).
 
Father Anthony Sen, convener of the Justice and Peace Commission in the diocese of Dinajpur, said the government is denying the facts for political interests.
 
“The government knows everything yet continues to deny as extrajudicial killings are mostly politically motivated. Restrictions on NGOs, freedom of speech, endemic corruption and abuses of human rights, especially those of minorities, are rampant,” he said.
 
The state has also failed to address a lack of freedom to participate in the political process or to curb corruption, violence and discrimination based on gender, religion, caste, tribe including indigenous persons as well as sexual orientation, the report said.
 
Ain o Salish Kendra, a Dhaka-based rights group, recorded 162 cases of crossfire—a common euphemism used for arbitrary police shooting—in 2017. Another rights group, Odhikar, said 118 extrajudicial killings took place that year.
 
Human trafficking, workers’ rights and child labour were among the most serious problems. Security forces enjoyed widespread impunity for abuses and limited measures were taken to investigate and prosecute cases of abuse and killings by security forces.
 
Nur Khan, a prominent rights advocate, said the government was lying about the report’s findings.
 
“Denying crimes is a crime. Human rights violations continue unabated as security forces enjoy impunity. This culture of denial and impunity must end,” Khan said.

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