Ensure rights, safety of 2 Gulshan café hostages: HRW

Ensure rights, safety of 2 Gulshan café hostages: HRW

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Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights body, has urged the Bangladeshi authorities to guarantee all the due process rights of two detainees–Hasanat Karim and Tahmid Khan–who had been held hostage by armed gunmen during siege on the Holey Artisan Bakery.The two men were initially held for questioning by authorities but have neither been charged with nor released. All the hostages, except Karim, 47, and Khan, 22, were released on July 3.
Their families have had little or no official information about their safety and whereabouts since. They have been allowed to send medicines and clothes, but are unsure if those were delivered to the detainees, said the rights body in a statement.
The detainees have not been produced promptly before a judge, a right enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bangladesh is a party, it said.
“The attack on the café was a horrific event, and the authorities should conduct thorough investigations by questioning those held hostage – but they must do so in a rights-respecting manner,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Karim and Khan have not had access to a lawyer, and the police continue to deny holding them although they are clearly still being held by the Detective Branch. The authorities need to either charge or release them immediately.”
The length of time the two men have been held incommunicado is a direct violation of their basic rights, the statement said.
Human Rights Watch noted that Bangladeshi security forces have an extensive and well-documented history of custodial abuse, including torture. Given this history, there is a real risk of harm during detention and interrogation, it said.
Karim is a UK national and Khan is a resident of Canada. Human Rights Watch called upon both the UK and Canadian authorities to press for consular access to ensure the safety and well-being of the detainees.
“The authorities holding Karim and Khan are bound by Bangladeshi law and international law to ensure that both men are accorded their full due process rights, including the right to a lawyer and the right to be produced before a magistrate, both of which are key in ensuring their physical well-being and freedom from custodial abuse,” said Adams.
“The length of time the two men have been held incommunicado is a direct violation of their basic rights,” he added.

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