Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said the government has been working to uphold the rule of law to protect human rights in the country, stressing the need for creating mass awareness about citizens’ duty and rights.

“We will have to let know the countrymen about the human rights and citizens’ duty as rights and duty are complementary to each other. One’s duty is another’s right and in contrary one’s right is another’s duty,” she said.

The prime minister was addressing as the chief guest at a programme marking the Human Rights Day-2019.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) organised the event at a city hotel in assistance with UNDP’s human rights programme with the theme of “Youth standing up for the human rights”.

The prime minister said the NHRC could play a significant role in making people aware of citizens’ duty and their rights to protect human rights.

Describing the rule of law as the most required thing to protect human rights, Sheikh Hasina said, “We have been working to maintain the rule of law. So, the criminals whoever they might be would have to face punishment.”

She also said her government has been taking various measures to protect the human rights of all irrespective of classes and professions.

Alongside protecting the human rights, the prime minister said the ongoing drives against terrorism, militancy, narcotics and corruption will be continued, adding that “We have to prevent social menaces as these can destroy the society.”

Human Rights Day is observed by the international community on 10 December every year. It commemorates the day in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Law, justice and parliamentary affairs minister Anisul Huq also spoke as the special guest while NHRC chairman Nasima Begum presided over the function.


NHRC full-time member Kamal Uddin Ahmed and UN’s residential representative Mia Sippo, also spoke on the occasion.

The theme song marking the day was played at the function alongside screening a video documentary on human rights.

Sheikh Hasina said, “We want to maintain the rule of law by holding trials of all the human rights violation.”

She added that protection of the human rights means not only the protection of the people physically, but also fulfilling their basic rights, for which her government has been working.

“None will remain homeless as well as hungry. All will get education, clothes and treatment, as Bangabandhu wanted to build a Sonar (Golden) Bangla free from poverty and hunger,” she said.

Regarding the Rohingya issue, the prime minister said, “We didn’t engage in clash with Myanmar rather holding talks as it (Myanmar) takes initiative to take back their nationals.”

“We have given shelters to the Rohingyas on humanitarian ground as we encountered similar experience during the War of Liberation,” she said.

Over 1.1 million Rohingyas have taken shelter in Bangladesh, the prime minister said, adding that they (Rohingyas) came to Bangladesh in large numbers in 2017 after facing inhuman torture in Myanmar that Bangladeshis had to face in 1971.

In this context, she recalled that over 10 million people took shelter in India as refugee during the liberation war.

Sheikh Hasina said the passing of indemnity bill for scraping the trial of the killers of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members was a clear violation of the human rights.

“The most sorrowful matter was that the killers had shown arrogance announcing that their trial will not be held,” she added.

The killers were not only awarded jobs in foreign missions but also were rehabilitated in politics, she said, adding that one of the killers was made the Leader of the Opposition at parliament while another contested in the presidential election.

The prime minister said, “After assuming office, we had initiated the trial of Bangabandhu killing following cancelling the indemnity bill and accomplished it.”

Mentioning that Bangabandhu had started the trial of the war criminals soon after the independence, but, the prime minister said “After the killing of the father of the nation in 1975, Ziaur Rahman stopped the trial”.

The culture of impunity for human rights violations had started after the assassination of Bangabandhu as Ziaur Rahman killed thousands of people in the name of coups, she said. “That’s why the people of the country had to go through the pain for 29 years.”

“After assuming office, we have brought human rights violators under trial so that no incident of human right violation takes place in the future,” she said.

As a part of the move, Sheikh Hasina said her government completed the trial of the killers of Bangabandhu and also initiated trials of the war criminals.

Referring to disposing of some recent sensational cases in the country at the quickest possible time, Sheikh Hasina said her government was well aware of violation of the human rights.

“We have been playing proactive role in cases of any human rights violation in the recent time as we regard the government as the servant of the people,” she said.

Describing this year’s theme - “Youth standing up for the human rights” is time befitting, Sheikh Hasina said youths are the future of the nation as they will take the country as well as the effort for protecting the human rights forward.

Stating that Bangladesh has secured membership in the UN Human Rights Council for three times, the prime minister said her government has signed and ratified various international conventions to protect the human rights of women, children, labourer and physically challenged people.

Referring to the Awami League government’s commitment to safeguarding the human rights of the country’s people, she said her government enacted the National Human Rights Commission Act in 2009.

The government has been working to strengthen the National Human Rights Commission as per the electoral pledge and implementing its recommendations to protect human rights, she said.

Pointing out that most of the goals of the SDGs are directly and indirectly related to human rights, the prime minister said her government has been working relentlessly to reach that goal, saying “No one will be left behind,” as her government has been working to this end.