A high level delegation led by Anisul Huq MP, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh has participated in an interactive dialogue with the members of the UN Human Rights Committee on the current human rights situation in Bangladesh on 6 -7 March 2017 in Geneva. The two-day meeting was convened by the Committee for consideration of Bangladesh’s initial report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The delegation included Bangladesh Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UN in Geneva, Senior Secretary of Legislative & Parliamentary Affairs Division, Secretary of Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs, Secretary of Public Security Division and senior officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Election Commission, Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh Police, Armed Forces Division, Ministry of Women & Children Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Employment and Prison Directorate.
At the outset, the Law Minister provided a brief account of various statutory and practical measures taken by the current government for the implementation of ICCPR in the Bangladesh context. During the interactive session, the committee members asked specific questions on issues related to the state mechanisms for protection of human rights. The questions included rationale of newly passed Child Marriage Restraint Act, allegations of extra judicial killing, torture and abduction against law enforcement officials, security of writer/blogger/journalist/activists and status of investigation in the cases of writer/blogger killings, steps taken to stop child/bonded/forced labour, preventive detention and alleged use of force by police, allegations of torture and custodial death, conditions of prison, death penalty, etc. Rights of religious and ethnic minorities, including government actions on alleged land grabbing, attacks on minorities and their places of worship also featured in the committee’s questionnaire. Committee also enquired about the Election Commission and the status of investigations and trials against the perpetrators for their participation in the election time violence and other destructive activities. Questions related to freedom of expression also covered a significant portion of the dialogue. The Committee also requested information on status of Rakhine Muslims living in Bangladesh.
The Committee appreciated Bangladesh for submitting its initial report on ICCPR. Terming the head of delegation’s presentation as comprehensive, straight-forward and frank, the committee members thanked the Bangladesh delegation for engaging with the Human Rights Committee into this dialogue. The Law Minister reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to making further efforts in realizing the civil and political rights of the people of Bangladesh irrespective of their age, sex and colour, etc.
Bangladesh acceded to ICCPR in 2000 during the first tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The initial report, however, was submitted by the Government of Bangladesh to the Committee in June 2015.