Ensure free speech ahead of next polls

Says acting UN human rights chief

Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif has urged the Bangladesh government to ensure freedom of expression and peaceful assembly ahead of the next general election.

"In the polarising environment ahead of the next elections, it will be vital for the government to ensure freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and for security forces to refrain from using excessive force against protests," she said.

Human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and victims' families should not face reprisals or sanctions for their advocacy work, Al-Nashif said in her global update statement at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday.

During her first-ever Bangladesh visit last month, the then UN high commissioner Michelle Bachelet conveyed concerns to the authorities and offered the support of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to review restrictive laws governing online expression, according to the statement.

Bachelet also encouraged the establishment of an independent, specialised mechanism to investigate allegations of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, by law enforcement agencies, particularly by the Rapid Action Battalion, it added.


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