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Bangladesh: UN expert concerned about non-implementation of Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord

02 December 2022

GENEVA (2 December 2022) –Non-implementation of Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord since it was signed 25 years ago has severely threatened the culture and identity of the region’s Indigenous population, and violated their human rights, a UN expert said today. Marking the anniversary of the signing on 2 December 1997, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Francisco Cali Tzay,made the following statement:

“The non-implementation of the accord signed between the Government and the Parbtya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS - Indigenous Peoples political party) has left the Indigenous Peoples vulnerable, marginalised, and deprived of determining their own development, as they are entitled to in the accord.

The provision in the accord to return illegally occupied land and setting up a land dispute resolution commission has not been fully implemented, temporary military camps have not been withdrawn, and the rehabilitation of indigenous refugees and internally displaced IPs in their respective lands have also not been provided.

I have been continuously receiving news and information from different sources about the gross and systematic human rights violations against the Indigenous Peoples, including the PCJSS members who signed the accord, Indigenous human rights defenders and Indigenous women and girls. The repeated effort over the year to grab Indigenous Peoples’ land in the name of development, tourism, and eco-forest for national and international companies and other vested interests also disrespects the accord.

I’m seriously concerned over the rise of violence against indigenous women and the culture of impunity that prevails. Lack of full implementation of the accord is impacting indigenous women and girls gravely. Violence against them is being used as a tool to evict indigenous people from their land. Indigenous women and girls are rarely getting justice. Their freedom of movement is shrinking every day. Moreover, they are also facing violence, harassment, and oppression from their male counterpart as a result of non-implementation of the accord in the community.

Honesty, sincerity, dialogue, good faith and mutual trust are indispensable for implementing the CHT accord. I urge the Government of Bangladesh to respect its commitments made at the UN and at national level, and move the full implementation forward through full, meaningful and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples.”

ENDS

Mr. Francisco Cali Tzay, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples in March 2020 and took up the role on 1 May 2020. A Mayan Cakchiquel from Guatemala, he has represented indigenous peoples at the United Nations since the early 1980s, addressing human rights violations against indigenous peoples in Guatemala and around the world.

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.

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