Before that, on Monday, the 128th meeting of the committee will commence where 696 allegations of incidents of enforced disappearance in 21 countries will be discussed. The UN committee communicated with the Bangladesh government regarding four of the allegations within the stipulated time, the report said.

According to the statistics on allegations of enforced disappearance, resolved cases and unresolved cases mentioned in the report, the Bangladesh side provided information about eight of the victims. Among the 88 allegations of enforced disappearance in Bangladesh, two were women. Of the 81 unresolved cases, one is a woman. According to the records, three have been released and four are detained.

Lauding the provision of information of eight of the victims, the UN committee said the information could clarify the eight outstanding cases. The committee also asked the government to be active in providing information about the allegations the committee informed the government about since its 125th session.

The UN committee asked the government to conduct independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of enforced disappearance and the role of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). As per the UN committee’s report, it met thrice within the time mentioned. Representative of the Bangladesh government took part in the 2nd (overall 126th) of the three meetings in February this year.

The committee also put emphasis on the responsibilities of the government to ensure security of the families of the victims of enforced disappearance, rights activists and civic bodies from any threats. The committee report expressed concerns over the government’s decision not to renew the registration of rights organisation Odhikar that works on enforced disappearance and rights.

Regarding this, the Working Group recalled article 13 of the Declaration, which stipulates that all persons involved in the investigation, including the complainant, counsel, witnesses and those conducting the investigation, must be protected against mistreatment, intimidation or reprisal.

During her last visit before completing her tenure, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office Michelle Bachelet in Dhaka in August called on the Bangladesh government to arrange independent and impartial investigation of the allegations of enforced disappearances and serious violations of human rights in the country. She also offered all types of help from the commission.

The government, however, declined the call for independent investigation rejecting the allegations of enforced disappearance. Later, on 12 September, Nada Al- Nashif, UN acting high commissioner for human rights, made the same call at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The government, however, is yet to react in this regard.

Bangladesh has been competing to be a member of this 47-strong Human Rights Council of the UN. The voting will be held for several vacant posts in the coming few weeks at UN General Assembly. State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam tweeted after visiting Ethiopia to conduct campaign for the voting.

* The report, originally appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo, and has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza

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