Forced disappearances key problem
The United States has identified forced disappearances, discrimination against marginalised groups, and poor working conditions and labour rights are the significant human rights problems in Bangladesh.
In its annual human rights report, the State Department criticised a host of human rights problems in Bangladesh, particularly arbitrary arrests, detentions, and custodial deaths.
Bangladesh was also cited for suppressing labour rights, official corruption and related impunity, self-censorship in media, government’s failure to investigate and prosecute cases of security force killings.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry on April 19 submitted the 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, commonly known as the Human Rights Reports, to the United States Congress.
The report said suspected extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and kidnappings continued in the country, with human rights groups alleging the involvement of the country’s security services.
The government neither released statistics on total killings by all security personnel nor took comprehensive measures to investigate cases, despite statements by high-ranking officials that the government would show “zero tolerance” and fully investigate all extrajudicial killings by security forces, the report alleged.
“Marginalised groups, particularly Rohingya refugees, indigenous people, and women, suffered from unequal treatment and in some instances violence,” the Human Rights reports said adding “workers continued to face difficulties in forming unions and suffered from poor safety conditions in factories.”
The US report said official corruption and related impunity remained problems. Weak regard for the rule of law not only enabled individuals, including government officials, to commit human rights violations with impunity but also prevented citizens from claiming their rights.
As in the previous year, it said the government did not take comprehensive measures to investigate and prosecute cases of security force killings.
Other human rights problems included arbitrary arrests, detentions, and custodial deaths. Weak judicial capacity and resultant lengthy pretrial detentions continued to be problems, it said.
“Authorities infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. There were instances in which the government limited freedom of speech and assembly. Some journalists practiced self-censorship,” the report observed.
On freedom of press, it said the independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views; however, media critical of the government sometimes experienced negative government pressure. While journalists were subjected to physical attack, harassment, and intimidation from both state and non-state actors.
Regarding censorship or content restrictions, the report said the government indirectly censored the media through threats and harassment. According to journalists, on multiple occasions government officials asked privately owned television channels not to broadcast the opposition’s activities and statements.
This government, like its predecessors, issued new broadcast licenses to political supporters and denied them to political opponents.
The State Department report further said politically motivated violence and pervasive official corruption remained problems in Bangladesh while some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) faced legal and informal restrictions on their activities.