Allow the special rapporteurs access


The UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein has called upon Bangladesh for greater engagement to address concerns about the shrinking spaces for civil society and allegations of extrajudicial actions by the security forces. Bangladesh should not remain silent in response. It must give certain issues serious consideration. It must remember, the human rights violations against Rohingyas have drawn international attention to Myanmar and the matter has been taken up in the international criminal court.

Bangladesh and its media must remain strong it the demand for Myanmar to allow access of the UN special rapporteur to Arakan and for the allegations of human rights violations there to be investigated. There is no alternative but to remain vigilant in this regard. Such situations do not change easily. Bangladesh does not have the capacity to host the one million Rohingyas indefinitely. The question of country’s sovereignty and security is also involved.

Bangladesh must also recognise that its internal state of human rights is more sensitive than ever before. When the record of the accuser is cleaner than the accused, then the accuser has a stronger case. Bangladesh must take into cognizance the fact that it has won praise from international quarters, including the UN, for providing shelter to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds. But this praise pales when the UN and the international community point fingers at Bangladesh’s state of human rights.

Speaking at the human rights council in Geneva on Monday, the UN human rights commissioner acknowledged and lauded Bangladesh’s cooperation regarding the Rohingya refugee crisis. But he also expressed annoyance at Bangladesh’s unexplained silence regarding the issue of the UN human rights special rapporteurs. It is unfortunate that Bangladesh has ignored over ten requests for the rapporteurs to evaluate the state of human rights in the country.

Over the past five years, 40 countries of the world have ignored requests from the UN to allow special rapporteurs to enter their respective countries. Of these, 15 countries have left over five requests pending. These do not include developed or democratic countries. These include the countries Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Pakistan. Sure the image of our country is better than these. But by ignoring these requests to allow access to the special rapporteurs, Bangladesh is being listed with these countries too.

We hope that Bangladesh emerges out from among the countries which fear to allow entrance of the special rapporteurs for human rights. Bangladesh’s national elections are ahead. If the special rapporteurs are allowed access to Bangladesh, the country will earn the confidence of the international community and its image will be enhanced.

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