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Bangladesh: UN human rights experts urge immediate release of photographer Shahidul Alam

GENEVA (13 August 2018) - UN human rights experts* have urged Bangladeshi authorities to immediately release photographer Shahidul Alam, who was arrested and allegedly tortured after reporting abuses against student protesters demanding road safety. 

On 5 August, Mr. Alam was arrested in his house in Dhaka, hours after a news outlet released an interview with him on the student demonstrations. He appeared before court the following day, where he reportedly showed signs of torture. Mr. Alam has been placed on remand on charges of spreading propaganda and false information against the Government.

“The arrest and alleged ill-treatment of Mr. Alam is extremely worrying and takes place in a general context of a crackdown against young students and others calling for better public governance, reforms and justice in Bangladesh, including media workers and other civil society,” said the experts. 

“We urge the relevant authorities to immediately release Mr. Alam and to take effective measures to have all allegations of torture investigated promptly, effectively and impartially. We also urge them to ensure a safe and enabling environment for media workers,” they said.

ENDS

* The experts: Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The 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 system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms 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.

For inquiries and media requests, please contact: Ms. Marina Narvaez (mnarvaez@ohchr.org/ + 41 22 917 9615) or Ms. Azin Tadjdini (atadjdini@ohchr.org/ + 41 22 917 9400)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Jeremy Laurence – (+ 41 22 917 9826 / jlaurence@ohchr.org

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.