UN acting rights chief for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly in Bangladesh ahead of polls

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Desk report, Sept 12: UN acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif has said it will be vital for the government of Bangladesh to ensure freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and for security forces to refrain from using “excessive force” against protests in the “polarising environment” ahead of the next elections.

Nashif said this while delivering a statement on global update at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

During the first ever visit by a High Commissioner to Bangladesh last month, as well as to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, the former high commissioner discussed a full range of concerns with the authorities and offered OHCHR’s support to review restrictive laws governing on-line expression.

At that time, she encouraged the establishment of an “independent, specialised mechanism” to investigate allegations of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, by law enforcement agencies, particularly by the Rapid Action Battalion.

“Human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and victims’ families should not face reprisals or sanctions for their advocacy work,” said Nashif.