Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012
Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the Awami League (AL) to victory in the 2008 parliamentary elections, which international and domestic observers considered free and fair, although with isolated irregularities and sporadic violence. In most instances security forces reported to civil authorities.
The most significant human rights problems were enforced disappearances, discrimination against marginalized groups, and poor working conditions and labor rights. Suspected extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and kidnappings continued, with human rights groups alleging the involvement of the country’s security services. Marginalized groups, particularly Rohingya refugees, indigenous people, and women, suffered from unequal treatment and in some instances violence. Workers continued to face difficulties in forming unions and suffered from poor safety conditions in factories, highlighted by a factory fire on November 24.
Other human rights problems included arbitrary arrests, detentions, and custodial deaths. Weak judicial capacity and resultant lengthy pretrial detentions continued to be problems. Authorities infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. There were instances in which the government limited freedom of speech and assembly. Some journalists practiced self-censorship. Politically motivated violence and pervasive official corruption remained problems. Some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) faced legal and informal restrictions on their activities. Many children were compelled to work, due either to economic necessity or in some instances trafficking. Discrimination against persons with disabilities was a problem, especially for children seeking admittance to public school. Instances of societal violence against religious and ethnic minorities persisted, although many government and civil society leaders claimed these acts had political or economic motivations and should not be attributed only to religious beliefs or affiliations. Child marriage of girls was a problem. Discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation continued. Workers faced obstacles to engaging in collective bargaining. Child labor, particularly in the informal sector, remained a problem.
Official corruption and related impunity remained problems. Weak regard for the rule of law not only enabled individuals, including government officials, to commit human rights violations with impunity but also prevented citizens from claiming their rights. As in the previous year, the government did not take comprehensive measures to investigate and prosecute cases of security force killings.
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