Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Monday, 29 April 2013 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Bangladesh
Represented by 24-member delegation headed by Ms. Dipu Moni, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Bangladesh page on the UPR Website.

Troika *

Ethiopia, Pakistan, Czech Republic.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Bangladesh page on the UPR Extranet)

  • One of the major legislative and normative reforms since 2009 was the 15th amendment to the Constitution which laid the basis for building a democratic, pluralistic, secular, and socially just and inclusive Bangladesh  and paved the way for a peaceful transfer of power between elected Governments;
  • In the last four years, the Bangladeshi Government has made multi-pronged efforts to further strengthen the National Election Commission which has conducted more than 5,500 free, fair and impartial elections at different tiers of governance where around 65,000 people’s representatives got elected;
  • The National Human Rights Commission has now become the primary institution to oversee the protection and promotion of human rights in Bangladesh; the Government also approved its first National Integrity Strategy for eliminating corruption in all spheres of society;
  • The Government has maintained a “zero tolerance” stance to any form of human rights violation and on impunity; to date, legal and disciplinary measures have been taken against 1,678 personnel belonging to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB);
  • The Government brought to conclusion the trial of the murder of the Father of the Nation – Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman - and 18 members of his family on 15 August 1975, and another brutal episode in the nation’s history will soon be brought to closure through a verdict due tomorrow on the killing of four national leaders in prison in November 1975;
  • The 15th Amendment of the Constitution has granted for the first time Constitutional recognition to the country’s 48 ethnic groups and tribal communities; the enactment of Small Ethnic Group Cultural Institutions Act in 2010 has been a step in that direction;
  • Women’s visible presence in the political arena has been on the rise and girls outnumbered boys in schools, however violence against women continued; the Government adopted  the National Women Development Policy and enacted a number of laws to prevent domestic violence, anti-trafficking and pornography to better protect women and support victims;
  • The Government also adopted a time-bound Child Labour Elimination Policy followed by a National Action Plan and identified 38 hazardous sectors where child labour would be phased out as a matter of priority;
  • The Government has placed before Parliament the draft Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2012, which was expected to be adopted soon;
  • Bangladesh continued to provide protection and assistance to the Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar and prepared them for their voluntary repatriation to Myanmar;
  • Despite achievements, poverty remained the overriding obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights and also as both the cause and consequence of human rights violations; 31.5% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2010; the Government was committed to  poverty reduction, to reduce income inequalities and ensure social justice and equity;
  • As pledged during the first UPR, Bangladesh has broadened its engagement with UN Special Procedures and will continue to do some in the coming days.

Participants

In total 98 States participated in the dialogue:  25 HRC members and 73 observers  (Statements available on Bangladesh page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • National efforts to combat poverty and hunger;
  • Progress made in the area of health and education;
  • Advancements made in women’s empowerment;
  • Steps taken to uphold the rights of vulnerable groups;
  • Accession to the Rome Statute of the ICC;
  • The adoption of 196 human rights-related legislations since the first UPR.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Efforts to address violence and discrimination against women and children;  
  • Steps to formally abolish the death penalty;
  • Measures taken to address cases of extra-judicial killings and to ensure accountability;
  • Efforts to ensure that human rights defenders and journalists were able to work freely;
  • Steps taken to guarantee the rights of the Rohingyas and other vulnerable groups;
  • Policies to ensure safe working conditions and full workers’ rights.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Bangladesh.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To step up efforts to prevent violence against women, including by ensuring proper enforcement laws and prosecution for offenders; To intensify efforts to combat and eliminate human trafficking and provide support to victims;
  • To implement the national development policy for women; To lift remaining reservation to the CEDAW; To tackle instances of early marriages;
  • To continue efforts to prevent violence against children; To raise the criminal age of responsibility to at least 12 years old in line with the CRC;
  • To establish a moratorium on the death penalty;
  • To take all steps to tackle impunity by ensuring impartial investigations into extrajudicial killings, cases of torture and forced disappearances and hold perpetrators accountable; To agree to a visit by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings; To take the necessary measures to guarantee the independence of the War Crimes Tribunal;
  • To step up efforts to ensure that human rights defenders were protected and allowed to conduct their work without hindrance; To take all possible measures to reduce tensions during political manifestations; To bring to justice perpetrators of attacks on journalists; To ensure freedom of the press, including for independent media;
  • To extend a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures;
  • To ensure social protection and security for vulnerable groups; To step up efforts to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, and ensure related non-discrimination by taking appropriate legal measures; 
  • To take measures to guarantee the rights of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh and enable NGOs to carry out their work in this area; To grant access to aid agencies to assistance the Rohingya;
  • To continue to improve access to healthcare and education and to combat poverty;
  • To continue to address the problems related to working conditions and prioritize protection and welfare of workers, especially women; To fully train and equip relevant authorities to enforce laws on occupational safety and health and to ensure factory inspections and ensure violators of the Labour Act 2006 were held accountable; 
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: The 2nd OP to the ICCPR, the OPCAT, the Convention on enforced disappearances, the OP to the ICESCR, the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, conventions pertaining to refugees and stateless persons, the 3rd OP to the CRC, and ILO Convention 169 concerning indigenous people.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Bangladesh is scheduled to take place on
Thursday, 2 May 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

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