Monday, April 3, 2017

Inter-parliamentary union in Dhaka: Is this really going on?

Prime minister meets with speakers of 19 ipu member states
One must have more than a sneaking regard for how the Awami League government has managed to persuade the Inter-Parliamentary Union to host its assembly in Bangladesh this week with more than 650 MPs from 132 countries apparently attending.


The IPU may not have a high threshold of standards for membership, but one would expect - or at least hope - that since the organisation’s constitution suggests it is concerned about ‘representative institutions’ it would scrutinise the parliaments of the countries which sought to host its assemblies.

Well, in relation to Bangladesh, it seems it did not.

At the last election, in 2014, a majority of the parliamentary seats were uncontested and the remaining ones remained mostly uncompetitive. Even though polls showed that a free and fair election would have resulted in a close contest, possibly with the BNP alliance winning, just about every seat went to a member of the Awami League or its alliance of parties.

Not quite so representative.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

UN's 14 key demands on Bangladesh government human rights record


The United Nations Human Rights Committee - which assesses state parties' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - published its report on Tuesday setting out its observations on Bangladesh government 's compliance with the convention.

This report followed the government providing to the committee written and oral evidence of its claimed compliance.



Below are 14 key demands made by the committee along with extracts of what the committee stated.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bangladesh government at the UN Human Rights Committee

Anisul Huq, the Bangladesh Law Minister, responding to
questions at the UN Human Rights Committee
17 years ago, in September 2000, Bangladesh's Awami League government ratified the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Under the treaty, within a year, the government was required to provide the UN Human Rights Committee a report on its compliance. But it failed to do so, as did the subsequent BNP 2001– 2006 government, the 2007 to 2008 emergency caretaker government and the 2009 to 2014 Awami League government.

A year into its new term of office, and 15 years after the initial ratification, the Awami League government did finally submit its first report which earlier this month came up for consideration before the Human Rights Committee.

Though the Committee has no teeth, it was nonetheless refreshing to see the committee put the Bangladesh government though its paces on two separate days - something which one does not see much of these days inside Bangladesh, as the country has a parliament without a proper opposition, and an increasingly restricted (and nationalist) media unwilling (or unable) to ask hard and concerted questions.

So what did we learn from the law minister, Anisul Huq, who represented the government in Geneva? Here are my 8 most notable inaccuracies – other people will no doubt find others - along with four other interesting government comments.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Daily Star, Padma Bridge and Canada's Federal court

Over a month ago, the Daily Star published a front page news article on a Canadian court decision dealing with the admissibility of wiretap evidence in a trial involving three men alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to corrupt a Padma bridge consultancy contract.

The Daily Star is one of Bangladesh's great success stories. It seeks to be an independent and fearless newspaper, and though it may not always succeed,  it often does, and for its efforts it has been roundly punished by the government - in advertising bans, attacks by the prime minister and her son, and an organised effort to file criminal cases against its editor.

On this occasion, however, the Daily Star failed to report independently or accurately about this judgement and gave further steam to a false narrative widely propogated by Bangladesh's governing party spokespersons - which has indeed now resulted in a High Court order seeking the establishment of a commission of inquiry.