US for protecting fundamental civil liberties in Bangladesh

US for protecting fundamental civil liberties in Bangladesh

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Dhaka, Oct 22 – The United States (US) has said they continue to call on the government of Bangladesh to protect the fundamental civil liberties, especially the freedom of speech and press.“We support freedom of expression and freedom of media everywhere, including Bangladesh,” US principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells told a press conference at a city hotel on Monday evening.
Sharing US’ concern over recently enacted Digital Security Act (DSA), Wells said obviously the digital security surrounding social media and internet is a very serious issue around the world in terms of how to establish reasonable safeguard.
She hoped that there will be a dialogue between the government and civil society on how to improve the legislation.
The US also urged the government of Bangladesh to fulfill its commitment to hold “free, fair, credible and participatory” elections that reflect the will of the Bangladeshi people.
“With a dynamic and fast-growing economy, Bangladesh’s future success will be fueled by strengthening of its democratic institutions and governing structures,” she said mentioning that is why she conveyed this during her meetings in Dhaka.
Wells said they encourage the government of Bangladesh and the Election Commission to take all necessary steps and mentioned that it is deeply in Bangladesh’s interest to have free and fair elections.
Asked about the impression that the US government is backing Dr Kamal Hossain-led initiative, Wells said they support the democratic process but not a particular party or alliance over another party.
She also laid emphasis on stronger democratic institutions.
The US principal deputy assistant secretary said they will continue their call on Myanmar to create necessary conditions for Rohingyas to return voluntarily to their former places in safety and with dignity.
“Towards that end, we continue to urge the Myanmar government to fully implement the Anan Commission recommendations, including recommendations related to access to citizenship and freedom of movement and,” said Wells offering their help in doing so.
She said they also continue to call for accountability for those responsible for the violence in the Myanmar security forces. “So, those are some of the key themes and messages of my visit.”
Alice Wells, who came to visit Bangladesh on Saturday, said the US is committed to assisting Bangladesh in responding to this crisis and the US has provided more than $345 million in humanitarian assistance specifically in Bangladesh since August 2017.
She thanked the government and the people of Bangladesh for their continuous generosity in responding to this humanitarian crisis and for their efforts to ensure assistance reaches the affected population.
The principal deputy assistant secretary also met senior officials from the government of Bangladesh and discussed strengthening the US-Bangladesh partnership and collaboration on building a prosperous, secure, and interconnected Indo-Pacific region.
Wells met officials from UN organizations, NGOs and local government and discussed their efforts to ensure assistance reaches to the affected Rohingya populations.
Throughout her trip, she expressed appreciation for Bangladesh’s continued generosity in responding to the refugee crisis and support for the upcoming elections.
Wells said Bangladesh, located at the crossroads of South and Southeast Asia, is also central to the US administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
“It was evident in my meetings with government officials that the United States and Bangladesh are very much aligned in our visions for a free, open, rules-based, and interconnected region.”
With its impressive growth and focus on development, she said, “Bangladesh has made tremendous strides in reducing poverty from over half of the population to less than a third. “
Wells also said the US has supported Bangladesh’s steady progress towards its goal of graduating from LDC status by 2024.
“Bangladesh also has the potential to serve as a regional hub for trade and commerce between South and Southeast Asia and as an anchor for stability and prosperity in the Bay of Bengal region,” she said.
In recognition of Bangladesh’s valuable role in supporting Indo-Pacific strategy, the US recently announced that they will be providing Bangladesh with $40 million in Foreign Military Financing to enhance its coastal radar system, modernize and enhance its patrol boat fleet, and provide training in support of expanded maritime interdiction – all part of US’ Bay of Bengal Initiative.
US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat was present. – UNB

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