Arbitrary detention of Messrs. Mehedi Hasan and Bent Gehrt- BGD 001 / 0108 / OBS 012

29/01/2008
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the arbitrary detention of Mr. Mehedi Hasan and Mr. Bent Gehrt, labour rights investigators for the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labour rights monitoring organisation, which carries out investigations of working conditions in factories worldwide.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bangladesh.

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, subsequently to a monitoring mission carried out in Bangladesh along with Mr. Bent Gehrt, Mr. Mehedi Hasan, a Bangladeshi citizen, was arrested on January 24, 2008 in Dhaka by the Bangladesh Intelligence Service, and brought to the National Security Intelligence office in Gulshan, before being transferred to Pallabi police station. On January 25, 2008, Mr. Hasan was remanded to police custody for four additional days, for purposes of “further interrogation”.

The Observatory was also informed of the detention and subsequent interrogation of Mr. Gehrt at the Dhaka airport, on the same day, as he was about to board onto a plane to Thailand, where he lives. The interrogation lasted about an hour, during which Mr. Bent was asked to provide explanations on the activities he and Mr. Hasan had carried out in Bangladesh over the past weeks. The type of questions raised by the interrogators showed that the Bangladeshi authorities were aware of the actions undertaken by the two defenders in the country.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern over the ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Hasan, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and fears for his physical and psychological integrity. The Observatory also recalls that as a member of the Human Rights Council, Bangladesh “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” [1].

Actions requested:

Please write to the Bangladeshi authorities urging them to :

i.take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Mehedi Hasan and Bent Gehrt;

ii.release Mr. Mehedi Hasan immediately and unconditionally, as his detention is arbitrary;

iii.put an end to all acts of harassment against Messrs. Mehedi Hasan and Bent Gehrt, as well as against all human rights defenders in Bangladesh;

iv.comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, Article 6 (“as well as article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v.guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Bangladesh.

Addresses:

Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government, Office of the Chief Advisor, Tejgaon, Dhaka, BANGLADESH. Fax : +880 2 8113243 / 3244 / 1015 / 1490, Email: Info@pmo.gov.bd
Ministry of Home Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Building 4, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: mediacell@homemin-bd.org
Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: info@minlaw.gov.bd
Mr. Mohammad Ruhul Amin, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, Supreme Court Building, Ranna, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh, Fax +880 2 9565058
Ambassador Debapriya Bhattacharya, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva, 65 rue de Lausanne, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 738 46 16, E-mail: mission.bangladesh@ties.itu.int
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Brussels, 29-31 rue J. Jordaens, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 646 59 98; Email: bdootbrussels@freegates.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Bangladesh in your respective countries.

***
Geneva - Paris, January 29, 2008

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 (0) 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT : + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 (0) 22 809 49 29
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org

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