Monday, December 12, 2011

Rights defenders demand Bangladeshi Government ratify UN convention

Rights defenders demand govt ratify UN convention
Staff Correspondent
11 December 2011

Rights defenders on Saturday urged the government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to include enforced disappearance as an offence in criminal laws.

They also stressed the need for building awareness among the people to force the government to stop such rights violation.

They put forth their demands at an advocacy meeting on the accession on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in the capital.

Rights group Odhikar organised the programme with the help of the Switzerland embassy, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).

The AFAD president, Mugiyanto, said that the enforced or involuntary disappearances were an increasing phenomenon worldwide.

The convention was framed not sitting in a ‘drawing room’ rather taking inputs from victims and affected families. All concerned should carry the advocacy in a sustainable way until the Bangladesh government ratifies it, he said.

The FIDH head of Asia desk, David Knaute, hoped that the Bangladesh government would ratify the convention without any reservation and effectively implement it.

Odhikar adviser Farhad Mazhar said that world powers in recent years had started aggression in less powerful countries in the name of rights violation. ‘We should not give them any scope of such aggression.’

the Revolutionary Workers Party general secretary, Saiful Haque, said that such criminal activities were not taking place state support in any form and that holding only the law enforcement agencies responsible would not solve the problem.

The New Age editor, Nurul Kabir, said that involuntary disappearance would cause voluntary disappearance of many people as most of the involuntary disappearance cases are state-sponsored.

Deputy head of mission at the Switzerland embassy Gabriele Derighetti said that disappearance was not an issue when the present government assumed office. ‘The cases of disappearance will not disappear only through ratification. Making the government understand that disappearance is a major human rights violation is much important.’

The acting Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at the programme said that enforced disappearance was recurring in Bangladesh on political grounds and the government was least interested in its admission.

Fakhrul said that when the BNP was in office, incidents of ‘crossfire’ and Operation Clean Heart took place. ‘But I adamantly say that not a single of the incidents was political.’

Fakhrul said that the BNP did not support killing in the name of crossfire. He said that he individually considered that the deaths of communist leaders Mofakkharul Islam Chowdhury and Mizanur Rahman Tutu were acts of injustice.

He said that the past governments of BNP-led alliance should have signed and ratified the convention against enforced disappearance. He added that if the BNP went to power again, it would do whatever it would require to stop enforced disappearance.

Fakhrul came up with the observations in response to a rights activist during the question-answer session.

Families of Tapan Dash, Chowdhury Alam, Shamim Ahmed and Habibur Rahman, who all disappeared in such manner, narrated the happenings since the disappearance and the government’s apathy to finding them out.

‘It has now been four four months and seven days since my husband was abducted. I do not know how long I should wait. I want my husband back,’ said Shumi Das, wife of Tapan Das.

Dhaka University teacher Tasnim Siddqui, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal lawmaker Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal, Bangladesh Nationalist Party lawmaker Syeda Ashifa Ashrafi Papia and Citizens’ Movement for Democracy and Human Rights member secretary Mahmudur Rahman Manna also spoke.

the Odhikar president, CR Abrar, treasurer Farida Akhter and secretary Adilur Rahman Khan presided over the sessions.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the convention in late 2006 and it entered into force in late 2010.

As of December 9, 2011, 90 states have signed and 30 have ratified the convention.

The Convention provides for the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearances as well as the right for the relatives of the disappeared persons to know the truth.

The convention contains several provisions concerning prevention and investigation of the crime and the rights of victims and their families.

Source: New Age Newspaper, Bangladesh at

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