No improvement of human rights standards while countering terrorism

Paris-Dhaka, 18 February 2013. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization in Bangladesh, Odhikar, remain deeply concerned one year after the adoption of an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 (ATA) approving capital punishment for some crimes. While no death sentences have so far been given, the ATA continued to be used in 2012 as a tool to perpetrate human rights abuses against political opponents, journalists and other dissenting voices.

“The government should repeal or at least amend the Anti-Terrorism Act and conduct a comprehensive review of existing legislation to ensure their compliance with international human rights standards relating to counter-terrorism”, said Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar.

“Authorities have the occasion to prove their good will by extending an invitation for a country visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”, added Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president.

In the past, FIDH and Odhikar have raised their long-standing concerns that the vague definitions of ‘terrorist activities’ under the ATA opened the legislation to potential abuse. The monitoring work of Odhikar has for long indicated a large potential for abuse and violations of due process in the criminal justice system in Bangladesh. In 2012, the organization reported 24 cases of enforced disappearance, 70 killings and 72 cases of torture by law enforcement agencies.

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