Information on enforced disappearances provided by Bangladesh inadequate

Adiba Islam Hridi breaks into tears while asking for her father Parvez Hossain, to be returned. Mayer Daak, a platform of the families of the people who fell victim to enforced disappearance, organised an event where relatives of disappeared people joined at Shahbagh intersection, Dhaka on 29 August 2020Prothom Alo File Photo

Bangladesh has provided a reply to the United Nations Human Rights Council's Working Group against Enforced Appearances, with details about 76 incidents of enforced disappearance. The working group has said that information on 66 of the incidents is inadequate.

The Bangladesh government rejected 10 of the allegations of enforced disappearances, saying that eight of the persons had returned. The committee will give its final decision regarding the matter in six months' time.

These details were presented in the report published by the Working Group against Enforced Disappearances after its 123rd session. The report appeared at the UN Human Rights Council website on Sunday.

The report reminded the Bangladesh government of the obligation to locate the missing persons or their bodies. It also called for the protection of the persons filing complaints about the disappearances, the relations of the missing ones, lawyers, witness and all involved in the process of searching for these persons, against any form of threats and vengeful attacks.

The meeting of UN Working Group against Enforced Disappearances took place on 7 to 11 February this year in Geneva, Switzerland. After the meeting, the report was amended on 24 April and uploaded on the website.

The report referred to discussions with representatives of the government of at least 10 countries at the meeting. The meeting discussed the issue of enforced disappearances in China, South Korea, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka as well as Bangladesh and several other countries.

In the report, the working group on enforced disappearances sought urgent measures and special measures from the Bangladesh government about two incidents of enforced disappearance. Under the urgent measures category, it mentioned the abduction of Imam Mahadi Hasan on 6 November 2021 from Fulbaria in Dhaka. The report said, a group of plainclothesmen had picked him up and these persons may be involved with the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

Under the special measures category, the report referred to allegation regarding a certain Omar Faruk being detained by eight members of RAB and the Detective Branch of police on 5 February 2014. He had been picked up during a raid on one of this relative's house.

Regarding the Bangladesh response about eight persons returning, the report said on 10 January and 5 February the Bangladesh government provided the UN Human Rights Council's Working Group against Enforced Disappearances with information concerning Mohammad Mahmud Hasan, Mohammad Altaf Howladar, Mohammad Hasinur Rahman, Mohammad Siddiqur Rahman, Mohammad Abdullah Al Faruk, Md Akhter Hossain, Shamim Uddin Prodhan and Mohammad Rafiqul Islam. The working group will follow the 'six-month rule' in taking a decision about them.

Speaking to several diplomats of Bangladesh who are familiar with the work process of the UN Human Rights Council, it was learnt that when a country provides detailed information regarding the enforced disappearance of any persons, this information is sent on to the complainant of the enforced disappearance. If the complainant fails to challenge the government's information within six months, the committee will state that the matter has been resolved. And if the complainant challenges the government narrative with strong evidence and argument, the working group will call upon the concerned government to probe the matter.

In the report published on Monday, the working group said the Bangladesh government gave information on 66 enforced disappearances. However, the information was inadequate.

Mentioning that the Bangladesh government has provided information to the committee with information on many important incidents, the working group praised Bangladesh's involved with the UN Human Rights Council. At the same time it called upon the government to locate the victims of enforced disappearance or their bodies. It reminded Bangladesh of its obligation in this regard.

At various sessions of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in recent times, the human rights situation in over 50 countries came under review. The Working Group against Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances had highlighted the Bangladesh situation in its earlier report.

It was learnt from the UNHRC website that in meetings of the working group held during three sessions this year, new and old incidents of enforced disappearance and information received in this regard were reviewed. Other allegations were also discussed.

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The working group carried out these reviews on the basis of information from various non-government organisations and the families of the victims of enforced disappearance and discussions with them and also with representatives of the government.

Information and views are exchanged during the working group's direct meetings with the families of the enforced disappearance victims and other concerned persons. Later the governments of the concerned countries are apprised of their decision.