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Bangladesh: UN experts condemn killing of blogger Niloy Neel, a strong critic of extremism

GENEVA (7 August 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, have condemned today’s killing in Bangladesh of the blogger Niloy Neel, a supporter of free expression and opponent of fundamentalism of all kinds. Mr. Neel is the fourth Bangladeshi blogger hacked to death so far this year.

“The violent killing of another critical voice in Bangladesh shows that serious threats to freedom of expression persist in the country,” the experts said, calling for a prompt and thorough investigation. “It is vital to ensure the identification of those responsible for this and the previous horrendous crimes, as well as those who may have masterminded the attacks.”

“The organized targeting of critical voices aims at promoting a culture of silence and fear, and affects the society as a whole,” the Special Rapporteurs stressed.

“The Bangladeshi authorities must not only continue to strongly condemn these horrendous acts against freedom of expression, but should also ensure that their words are followed by more effective efforts to ensure greater accountability and prevent this kind of violence.”

In February this year, the blogger Avijit Roy was killed and his wife seriously injured in a similar attack. A month later, another blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was also killed in the Bangladeshi capital. In May, Ananta Bijoy Das, who wrote for a website promoting ‘science, rationalism, secularism, freethinking, human rights, religious tolerance, and harmony amongst all people in the globe,’ was also hacked to death.

The UN Special Rapporteurs reiterated their call on the Bangladeshi authorities to consider specific initiatives to prevent the recurrence of attacks against writers and activists. This should include not only the provision of particular physical protections to those who are potential targets for violence, but also open public debate challenging extremist views of all kinds.

David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (South Africa), is a director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx

The UN Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Bangladesh: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/BDIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Caroline Meenagh (+41 22 917 9580 / cmeenagh@ohchr.org) or Marcelo Daher (+41 22 917 9431 / mdaher@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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