‘Report has fundamental shortcomings’
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has said the US human rights report released on Monday has some fundamental shortcomings, which Dhaka will raise with Washington in the upcoming bilateral engagement.
The US Department of State's 2022 report on Human Rights Practices reported that the recent elections in Bangladesh, including the national elections of 2018, were not free and fair, and that there were incidents of disappearances, though the number of extrajudicial killings has declined significantly.
The report also highlighted several other issues, including the lack of press freedom, labour rights, freedom of assembly, and migrants and refugee rights.
"The first shortcoming is that it is a report on a country published by a friendly country," Shahriar Alam told journalists at the ministry yesterday.
Despite promises that the US will give chance for providing a defence, there was no such scope given to Bangladesh.
He said the information in the report is collected from open sources, which proves that the government does not obstruct the media from publishing any news.
The US report referred to the NGO Odhikar, which has no valid registration for operation, said Shahriar.
"We clearly said any NGO or CSO, which has a political history and identity, has no scope to be considered neutral. If such shortcomings continue to remain, the acceptability of the reports will be lost," he added.
Shahriar said the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances report mentioned 81 cases of disappearances but the actual number is 76.
"Bangladesh already wrote to the UN group that 10 of them were identified. Later, the group made the corrections. However, the US report vaguely mentioned Bangladesh's claim of identifying 10 of them, giving rise to confusion."
The US report said Bangladesh's constitution facilitates a parliamentary form of government that consolidates most power in the Office of the Prime Minister.
When asked, Shahriar said the prime minister has the power as much as a PM should have as per the law of the land. A friendly country has no moral right to express its concerns in this regard.
"In a presidential democracy, the president operates as per the law and through a presidential order. We don't say that the president is the only powerful person. In our country, you know how the law is framed. An office cannot be undermined this way. This is regretful," said the minister.