International concern about blocked human rights project
Bangladesh: RCT has requested the assistance of the Delegation of the European Commission and the Embassy of Denmark to act firmly in relation to another obstruction by the State Bureau for NGO Affairs Bureau to stop the EU funded project Human Rights Defenders Training and Advocacy Programme.
It is the second time that the implementation of the project has
been obstructed. Just four months into the project, on August 31
2009, the Ministry of Home decided to shut it down, effective
immediately. No reasons were given for this action.
The purpose of the project is to train human rights defenders in
Bangladesh in the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional
Protocol as well as putting focus on the fact that torture
committed by the authorities is prohibited both by national and
international law. The project is co-founded by the Danish Ministry
of Foreign Affairs and implemented by the Bangladeshi human rights
organization Odhikar with support from RCT.
- Killings and torture is the brutal reality that faces human
rights defenders in Bangladesh. With the immediate closure of the
project, it seems that the present government does not want to deal
with the widespread torture and wants to prohibit Odhikar from
exposing the human rights perpetrators, Adilur Rahman Khan,
Secretary for Odhikar, said at that time.
more here about the project and the first sanctions
When the the project was cancelled in 2009, Odhikar, subsequently
filed a writ petition to the High Court Division of the Supreme
Court challenging the decision. The Court issued a ruling against
the Government and at the same time stayed the impugned order.
Accordingly, Odhikar resumed project activities up to the end of
December 2009 and a positive approval by the State Bureau for NGO
Affairs Bureau for the extension phase to end of March 2010 without
bureaucratic delay was expected. However, the application from
Odhikar for the extension of the project was cancelled by the State
Bureau for NGO Affairs Bureau without any justification.
RCT find it hard to understand the precise reasons for the
obstruction by the Bangladeshi authorities. RCT is concerned that
the Government of Bangladesh is occupying a seat in the Human
Rights Council and at same time the Bangladeshi authorities are
making restrictions for the legitimate work of human rights
organizations in Bangladesh. Therefore, we express our sincere
trust that the Delegation of the European Commission and the
Embassy of Denmark will request for an explanation from the
Bangladesh authorities as well as add pressure for approving the
project extension without further delay.
For further information, please contact Program Manager Erik
Written by Heidi K. Tokle