AHRC flays rigging, ballot box stuffing in city polls

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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said ‘rigging and ballot box stuffing by ruling party cadres, polling officers and law-enforcement agencies’ marked Tuesday’s polls to the Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations.

These were witnessed by the human rights defenders associated with the AHRC, the Hong Kong-based rights body said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday.

The police barred journalists from covering election incidents, preventing taking photos and footage documenting the rigging, the AHRC said.

“At least a dozen journalists were assaulted and their cameras were snatched or broken,” it said, adding that despite the challenges, the media succeeded in exposing electoral manipulations.

The rights watchdog also blasted the Election Commission (EC) saying that “the EC did not take any credible step to maintain order and its own control over the electoral process.”

It is a fact, the body further said, credible and competent institutions do not exist in the country, be it the law-enforcement agencies, the EC or the judiciary.

“These elections in Bangladesh showcase the state of the country’s basic institutions, which severely lack competence, independence and professionalism in upholding the rule of law.”

Instead of wasting time and resources, it said, “There is a burning need to build the institutions to the extent that they can serve the aspirations of citizens, who pay their tax-money and strive for democracy and justice in the society at large.”

“Failure or delay in doing so will cost more lives and cause more frustrations‚Ķ,” it added.

The AHRC also criticised the country’s civil society members. “The civil society, which fails to act in an unbiased fashion and uphold normative standards in performing their role in society, should also share the shame.”

Source: Financial Express