Soja Kotha Desk repot
The US Department of State critisized heavily on the lack of freedom of expression in Bangladesh in its 45th annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
The report is an annual documentation of the state of human rights across the world and it acts as resource for its foreign policy.
“During the Covid-19 outbreak, the government widely used the Digital Security Act against persons questioning the government’s handling of the pandemic,” said the report released two days ago.
The DSA, it said, provides for sentences of up to 10 years’ imprisonment for spreading “propaganda” against the Bangladesh Liberation War, the national anthem, or the national flag.
“Individuals faced the threat of being arrested, held in pretrial detention, subjected to expensive criminal trials, fines, and imprisonment,” it said.
The report has mentioned significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents; forced disappearance by the government or its agents; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government or its agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary or unlawful detentions; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; violence, threats of violence and arbitrary arrests of journalists and human rights activists, censorship, site blocking, and criminal libel; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, such as overly restrictive nongovernmental organization laws and restrictions on the activities of such organizations; restrictions on freedom of movement; restrictions on political participation; corruption; criminal violence against women and girls and lack of investigation and accountability; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting indigenous people; crimes involving violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons; laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct; significant restrictions on independent trade unions and workers’ rights; and the worst forms of child labor.
The report said, the constitution provides for the rights to life and personal liberty. There were numerous reports, however, that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
It added that law enforcement raids occurred throughout the year, primarily to counter terrorist activity, drugs, and illegal firearms. Suspicious deaths occurred during some raids, arrests, and other law enforcement operations. Security forces frequently accounted for such deaths by claiming–when they took a suspect in custody to a crime scene to recover weapons or identify coconspirators–accomplices fired on police and killed the suspect. The government usually described these deaths as “crossfire killings,” “gunfights,” or “encounter killings.” The media also used these terms to describe legitimate uses of police force. Human rights organizations and media outlets claimed many of these crossfire incidents actually constituted extrajudicial killings. Human rights organizations claimed in some cases law enforcement units detained, interrogated, and tortured suspects, brought them back to the scene of the original arrest, executed them, and ascribed the death to lawful self-defense in response to violent attacks.
The full report could be seen in this link.