Commitment to Protect Human Rights and Reality

April 26, 2013 


This is a translation of article printed by Prothom Alo


Human rights situation of Bangladesh is going to be reviewed for the second time in Human Rights Council of United Nations under Universal Periodic Review mechanism on 29 April this year. Various private organizations and NGO have already submitted 27 alternative reports to participate in this process. UN Human Rights Council has prepared a compilation on the basis of these reports.


Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a newly introduced mechanism of United Nations to oversee Human Rights situation. Purpose of this process is to improve the human rights condition of the member states of UN and to raise voice against violation of human rights- in whichever corner of the globe it takes place. Mainly three reports are taken into consideration in this process- report prepared by Government, report prepared by the UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights on the basis of information provided by UN and its associate bodies and report of UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights on the basis of information provided by other stakeholders (including civil society actors). However, National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh is going to participate in the UPR process for the first time by submitting its own report.


Human Rights Forum, Bangladesh is a coalition of 19 Human Rights and development organizations. It has prepared a report on the basis of information gathered from its own and other sources. It participated in the first UPR process in 2009 by submitting its report to the office of UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights. Aim of the Forum is to portray the current human rights issues of the country through effective utilization of UPR process, to get informed about the position of the government on these issues, to obtain effective commitment from the Government in protecting human rights and to carry on advocacy with Government to realize the commitments and thus improve the human rights situation of the country through continuous dialogue and advocacy.


Apart from submitting its report in 2009 in UPR, representatives of the Forum participated in the session of the Working Groups. Later, they advocated with the Government for implementation of the recommendations made by other member States. Representatives of the forum prepared an intermediary report on the implementation of those recommendations. To participate in the 2nd UPR process, the Forum has already prepared a report on the human rights situation of the country for the period of September 2009 to September 2012. Important parts of this report were presented to the media on November last year. On the eve of UPR of this year, that report has been distributed again to them.


The Working Group session of UPR will be held on 29 April 2013 in Geneva. But those who have submitted report to participate in this process will reach there earlier and will participate in issue-based discussions. Most importantly, they will hold bilateral meetings with the representatives of different states and will present the human rights issues and will inform them about the issues on which they can advise the Government. The groups that can present the most timely and effective recommendations to these representatives will get the most acceptances. Later, these representatives of member States will table these recommendations to the Government of Bangladesh in the UPR session. As per the UPR process, the Government adopts the recommendations those it considers acceptable and rejects others by showing appropriate cause.


Notable aspect of this year’s UPR is that, the implementations of recommendations forwarded to and accepted by the Government of Bangladesh will be evaluated in this session. On the basis of detail discussion, a report will be prepared and adopted in the UN Human Rights Council on 2nd May this year.


The Forum has already discussed its report with the diplomats posted in Dhaka, representatives of different international organizations and various persons and organizations in district level. In these meetings, some of the issues appeared which will get highlighted in this year’s UPR session include Rohingya refugee, trial of crimes against humanity, labor rights, women rights, extra-judicial killing etc.


To participate in this year’s UPR session, a 20-member delegation of Human Rights Forum, Bangladesh has arrived Geneva on 20 April. They will stay there till 2 May. This delegation includes the Convener of the Forum Sultana Kamal, member Sara Hossain, Iftekharuzzaman, Zakir Hossain, Shahin Anam, Sanjeeb Drong, Binota Dhamai, Saleh Ahmed.


We are expecting that, in this year’s UPR session, other member states will put forward some important recommendations on the current human rights situation to the Bangladesh Government and the Government will positively consider those recommendations. This year’s UPR session is very important in the existing situation in Bangladesh. At the time of first UPR session in 2009, the Awami League led Grand Alliance just formed the Government. But right now, the Government is about to complete its tenure. Thus the human rights situation of the past four years of this Government will be discussed and evaluated in this year’s session. Besides, the implementation of the commitments made by the Government in last year’s session will also be discussed.