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Dhaka to continue dialogue with UN on HR issues

Several ministers meet the visiting UN rights chief

Published : 15 Aug 2022 09:15 PM | Updated : 16 Aug 2022 02:13 PM

The foreign ministry said the government would continue dialogue and cooperation with the UN on human rights issues as visiting High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet met several ministers after arrival in Dhaka on Sunday for a four-day visit.

This is the first ever visit by any UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights back in 1993.

Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen received her at the airport. 

Later, she had meetings with him, and the Home Minister, the Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and the Education Minister.  

They discussed various dimensions of the human rights aspect of Bangladesh. During the meetings, Bangladesh Ministers highlighted the Government’s sincere efforts to protect and promote human rights of the people. 

Her office said she also had “important exchanges” with a diverse range of civil society actors in Dhaka on Monday. 

“Civil society needs the space, and enabling conditions, to play their crucial role in identifying and helping resolve Human Rights challenges,” she was quoted as saying after the meeting in a facebook post.

Foreign Minister Momen highlighted the government’s achievements in women empowerment, GDP growth despite the pandemic, and political stability, among others.

He also underscored the fact that, in Bangladesh the media is operating freely, with a large number of television channels and newspapers.

He urged the High Commissioner to use her good office to effectively engage with Myanmar and repatriate the forcibly displaced Rohingyas to Myanmar. 

He also underscored that, protracted stay of the displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh bears the risk of the spread of radicalism, transnational crimes etc., and thus may hamper regional stability. 

He recalled that the Government took good care of the displaced Rohigyas during the pandemic by providing vaccines. 

He urged the UN system, including UNDP, to undertake projects in Rakhine to create a conducive environment for the return of the Rohingyas. 

He underscored that Bangladesh, as a developing country, strongly promotes the Right to Development.  

Law Minister Anisul Huq, during his meeting, briefed the High Commissioner on the progress made on the reviewing of the Digital Security Act (DSA), an area on which both sides are working together, underscoring that the DSA was enacted to combat cybercrimes. 

Underscoring that Bangladesh is working towards establishing a social order where human rights are guaranteed, he underscored the need for further international support for human rights training. 

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, during the meeting, depicted how Bangladesh suffered from political violence and terrorism in past, and how the government has ensured safety and security combating all these challenges.

Both sides also appreciated the professional performances of Bangladeshi peacekeepers, including female peacekeepers. 

The Home Minister, in response to the High Commissioner’s query, elaborated the government’s sincere efforts to fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord. He also highlighted the prevailing religious harmony in the country.

Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni briefed High Commissioner Bachelet on the measures undertaken by the government to ensure quality education, including introducing new curriculum, skill development initiatives, stipends for female students, access to education for disabled persons, etc.

She also informed about the inclusive measures taken for the third gender people.    

High Commissioner Bachelet, appreciating Bangladesh’s humanitarian gesture towards the Rohingyas, underscored the need for their education through fully operationalizing the learning centers in the camps.

She appreciated Bangladesh’s regular reporting to human rights treaty bodies, and suggested a mechanism for further streamlining this.

She also positively noted the possible upcoming visits of several Special Rapporteurs of the UN to Bangladesh, as well as Bangladesh’s efforts to implement the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations.

Acknowledging Bangladesh’s great difficulty in dealing with the Rohingya crisis, she assured the UN’s continued efforts to realize safe and voluntary return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.

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