Attacks on freedom of expression in BD 'multiplied'

Attacks on freedom of expression in BD ‘multiplied’


The European Union (EU) has said attacks on freedom of expression in Bangladesh ‘multiplied’ in 2015, UNB news agency
reported.Intimidation of journalists and editors also increased, while measures were taken to undermine the economic viability of some prominent newspapers, said the EU annual report.The EU Council adopted its annual report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2015 – Country and Regional Issues on Tuesday.It said Bangladesh witnessed a ‘diminishing’ democratic space and a steady ‘deterioration’ in civil and political rights, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and restrictive action against opposition and human rights activists in 2015.The killings of four ‘atheist’ bloggers and one publisher in 2015 proved that the country was not immune to the threat of rising religious extremism, the report mentioned in its Bangladesh part.

The deteriorating security situation was underlined by the killings of two foreign citizens.On the positive side, it said, some progress has been achieved on social and economic rights.The EU continued its human rights and democracy dialogue with Bangladesh at the meetings of the sub-group on good governance, human rights and migration in February 2015 and the EU-Bangladesh Joint Commission in November 2015.The EU and its Member States regularly followed the human rights situation in Bangladesh through political dialogue, public diplomacy,development assistance and projects, engaging with Bangladeshi representatives, meeting human rights activists or organising field visits to get acquainted with the situation on the spot, the report mentioned.The EU Heads of Mission issued several statements on incidents of violence. On 15 January 2015, the Heads of Mission also met with the Foreign Minister to express their regret at the political violence and the resultant casualties.The European Parliament adopted a resolution on November 26, 2015 on freedom of expression in Bangladesh, condemning the attacks against secularist writers, bloggers, religious minorities and foreign aid workers and calling on the Bangladeshi authorities to bring an immediate end to all acts of violence, harassment, intimidation and censorship.Cooperation under the framework of the Sustainability Compact continued in 2015 with the aim of improving labour rights, occupational health and safety conditions in the garment industry in Bangladesh, said the report.The long-awaited implementing rules for the revised Bangladesh Labour Act were published in September 2015 and factory inspections in the readymade garment sector continued at a steady pace.The EU continued its dialogue with civil society organisations and human rights defenders.Continuous support was provided to human rights NGOs through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.Around 35 projects were ongoing in 2015, addressing issues ranging from the rights of children, women and persons with disabilities,minorities and indigenous peoples’ rights and labour rights to empowering civil society, at a total cost of EUR 210 million.Seven new projects focusing on civil society were selected in 2015 to receive EUR 6.8 million.The strengthening of democratic governance is also one of the priorities of the Multiannual Indicative Programme for 2014-2020.


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