Bangladesh’s institutions, social fabric dysfunctional: FORUM-ASIA
Bangkok-based Forum for Human Rights and Development has called on Bangladesh’s election commission to ensure that the upcoming elections are free and fair.
“Elections have turned to tragicomic drama,” it said insisting that the commission should ensure its impartiality and restore people’s faith in the electoral process.
Better known as FORUM-ASIA, it called for releasing all protesters and opposition leaders who have been arbitrarily detained for exercising their human rights and drop all trumped up charges against them.
The rights group made the call in a report titled “Shrinking Democratic Space and Freedom of Expression in Bangladesh” released on Wednesday.
The report examines the country’s current democratic and civic space; the status of freedom of expression, assembly and association; patterns of gross human rights violations; and the electoral process and its credibility.
The report observed that Bangladesh’s civic space, democratic institutions and practices, and scope for remedies from its judicial, administrative and legislative institutions demonstrate an alarming decline since 2008.
“Decades of political violence is a direct result of political polarisation and family-centred political parties. Fragile colonial criminal justice institutions have become dysfunctional as a result of the extremely polarised political culture,” the FORUM-ASIA report observed.
It went on to say: “Politicisation and the use of law-enforcement agencies, security forces, intelligence units, bureaucracy, and the judiciary against human rights defenders and dissenting voices, have left political institutions and the social fabric of Bangladesh dysfunctional.”
The report mentioned that extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance of opposition activists and dissidents increased in an alarming proportion during the current regime.
FORUAM-ASIA said media freedom is systematically and extensively curtailed. “Independent human rights activism is faced with digital and physical surveillance, smear campaigns, fabricated cases, and arbitrary detention,” the report said.
“Space for exercising peaceful democratic rights is curbed through physical violence and trumped up criminal charges,” said the report