There is considerable gap between the government’s claim regarding the state of implementation of the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council and the reality. The UN Council’s suggestions stem from a four-yearly review of a country’s state of human rights, which in our case was done last year, and it is up to a country to accept or reject the recommendations, and Bangladesh on its part had agreed after last year’s quadrennial review that it would take steps to implement the 178 recommendations. Regrettably, claims by government representatives at the review meetings are not quite in conformity with what we find on ground. We wonder why this hide and seek?
The major areas of concern, namely, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings, violence against women and women workers’ rights, both migrant and local, have witnessed no progress, at least any that we can recall, since the time the last review meeting was made and now. In fact, the conditions of migrant women workers have worsened and the female domestic workers are yet to come under a regulatory framework; and a lacuna in the child marriage law is being exploited at random. There is still discrepancy in pay of a male and female worker doing the same job. And the fact that a large number of people become victims of enforced disappearance and crossfire, do little credit to the state of human rights in the country. And even worse, it dilutes the gains that we have made in so many other areas.
There is something called public perception and public knowledge. The law minister’s claim that progress is being made steadily should be demonstrable and perceptible. While we agree that some progress has been made in this regard, there are matters that must be addressed and recommendations effected in the shortest possible time, which has not been done. We should not forget that we were elected to the Human Rights Council last year for a three-year term. Our credibility as a member would depend on how effectively we address the human rights issue in the country.