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[HRC51 Oral Statement] Item 2: General debate on the oral update by the High Commissioner

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51st regular session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 2: General debate on the oral update by the High Commissioner


Delivered by Ahmed Adam

On behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

 14 September 2022



Mr. Vice President,

We welcome the Acting High Commissioner’s update and congratulate Mr. Volker Türk on his appointment as the next High Commissioner for Human Rights. We urge the new High Commissioner to be the uncompromising voice and advocate the millions of victims of human rights violations and abuses across the world need and to work closely with civil society and human rights defenders.

We share the High Commissioner’s view on the need to ensure freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Bangladesh ahead of the next elections.

The government’s continued harassment of prominent human rights organization, Odhikar, and its leaders Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan are emblematic of the systematic repression against human rights defenders, NGOs and critical voices in the country.

The recent decision of the Prime Minister’s Office to uphold the arbitrary de-registration of Odhikar, as well as the ongoing judicial harassment of Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan since May 2013 on trumped up cybercrime charges clearly demonstrate the lengths to which the government is willing to go to silence human rights defenders and civil society. We call on Bangladesh to end judicial harassment of Odhikar and its leaders.

Bangladesh must repeal or review in line with its international obligations the Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulations Act 2016, the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 (ICT Act) and the Digital Security Act 2018 to create an environment where human rights defenders, NGOs and journalists can do their legitimate work freely, without fear of reprisals.

We call on the High Commissioner and the Council to continue to monitor and take necessary steps to prevent further deterioration of the situation in Bangladesh.

Thank you.