The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) urges Prime Minister of Bangladesh H.E. Sheikh Hasina to do everything in her power to ensure that a full and impartial investigation into the reported attack is being carried out, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards, as well as to ensure the safety of lawyer Shahanur Islam and his family members, since they believe that the continuous harassment against Mr. Shahanur Islam is based solely on his legitimate activities as a human rights lawyer.
The CCBE also express its serious concern over the prosecution and continuous harassment of lawyer Shahanur Islam as well as draw attention to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in particular Principles 16, 17 and 18 on Guarantees for the functioning of lawyers and Principle 23 on Freedom of expression and association.
The President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) Margarete von Galen sent the letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh H.E. Sheikh Hasina on 10th November 2021 over email and fax.
The CCBE represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries, and through them more than 1 million European lawyers. The CCBE places great emphasis on respect for human rights and the rule of law and is particularly concerned with the situation of human rights defenders around the world.
The CCBE mentions the letter that on 26 August 2020 lawyer Shahanur Islam was attacked by approximately 10 individuals at the court premises of Naogaon district in the northern part of Bangladesh. As a result of the attack, he suffered serious face and body injuries and was subsequently hospitalised.
The CCBE also mentions the letter that the attack took place just after he left the hearing; he took part in against Md. Jahurul Islam, Member of District Parishad. The hearing in question concerned a fraudulent court summon issued by Jahurul Islam against lawyer Shahanur Islam in an on-going case between lawyer Shahanur Islam and Jahurul Islam, which began in late 2018 when the latter made false allegations against lawyer Shahanur Islam and two other members of his family. It is reported that the attack was led by Jobayer Hossain, son of Jahurul Islam.
Furthermore the CCBE mentions the letter that In this regard, they understand that although a criminal case was filed against Jahurul Islam and his associates, only two of the assailants were arrested and no proper impartial investigation was conducted by the police. It is also reported that the two arrested assailants were then released on bail. In addition to this, it is reported that lawyer Shahanur Islam has repeatedly received threats against him and his family over social media and on his cell phone to withdraw the case against Jahurul Islam as well as stop raising his voice for ensuring the rights of the LGBTQI+ people.
Again the CCBE mentions the letter that they understand that it is not the first time that the lawyer is under attack. It is indeed reported that he has been receiving death threats and has been the victim of physical assaults and hate speeches since 2016. It is notably reported that in February 2018, the Magistrate Court of Naogaon issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Shahanur Islam in relation to his work in the defence of LGBTQI+ persons from discrimination.
Finally, the CCBE mentions the letter also mentions that Lawyer Shahanum Islam is a well-known human rights lawyer who has defended the rights of ethnic, religious, political and sexual minorities (LGBTQI+), as well as in cases of torture, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance and organised violence. He was awarded the JusticeMakers Fellowship in 2010 by the International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) for his work promoting human rights in Bangladesh.
To read the original letter in pdf visit the following link:https://www.ccbe.eu/fileadmin/speciality_distribution/public/documents/HUMAN_RIGHTS_LETTERS/Bangladesh_-_Bangladesh/2021/EN_HRL_20211110_Bangladesh_Prosecution-and-continuous-harassment-of-lawyer-Shahanur-Islam.pdf?fbclid=IwAR004tySaowUeooJxQiiLArhuasyWalQ7j6iAROU-ZyyuVuV5YEdg-rwipk