Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has lauded Bangladesh for sheltering some 700,000 Rohingya refugees since the latest influx from Myanmar, but expressed deep concerns over growing attacks on secular bloggers and journalists.
The international rights body said it regards Bangladesh's response to the refugee crisis as a beacon of humanitarian support, and urged the international community not to flag its support to Bangladesh and the Rohingya refugees.
The CHRI issued a statement on May 12 as Bangladesh's human rights situation will be reviewed at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in Geneva today.
This is for the third time since 2008 that Bangladesh faces the UPR process. Bangladesh will present a national report on the domestic human rights scenario. Other nations will then make observations and recommend steps to improve the situation.
CHRI said eight journalists have been killed in Bangladesh since last UPR in 2013, while 1,271 charge sheets were filed in Bangladesh under section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act for criticising the government or political leaders. In 2017, one journalist was killed, while 28 suffered serious injuries, and another 75 were victims of major assaults, the statement said.
“Independent journalism has become a highly insecure profession in Bangladesh,” said Sanjoy Hazarika, CHRI's international director.
Besides, Bangladesh government has failed to conduct credible investigations on past and current attacks on journalists, media outlets, and human rights defenders, he said.
CHRI said the most significant human rights issues requiring urgent action by Bangladesh government include excessive use of force, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary or unlawful detentions, restrictions on civil liberties as well as on the NGO activities.
Bangladesh needs to show it is taking action to protect journalists and bloggers, human rights defenders, strongly defend minority rights and tackle issues arising from impunity around enforced disappearances, CHRI said.