Limits Of 2022 US Human Rights Report On Bangladesh – OpEd


The USA recently released a report on the human rights situation of 198 countries in 2022. In 2022, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, suppression of expression and media, use of force in gatherings, obstruction of national and international human rights institutions, etc. continued as usual in Bangladesh. However, compared to 2021, extrajudicial killings have decreased in 2022, according to the report published on the global human rights situation.

These things were said in the report entitled ‘2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices’ published on the website of the US State Department on Monday (March 21) about the global human rights situation.

According to the report, in 2022 extrajudicial killings, disappearances, obstruction of expression and media, use of force in meetings and gatherings, obstruction of national and international human rights institutions, etc., continued as in the US report. There were also reports of widespread impunity allegations of torture and corruption by the security forces at this time, it said. The government has rarely taken steps to identify, investigate, prosecute and punish members of the security forces who have been involved in human rights abuses and corruption.

Various operations by the security forces continued throughout the year. Although primarily to combat terrorist activity, drugs, and illegal firearms, some operations have resulted in arrests and suspicious deaths during other law enforcement operations. Members of the security forces have frequently denied their role in such deaths. They claimed that when they took a suspect into custody to recover weapons or identify the conspirators, they opened fire on the police, the police returned fire and the suspect was killed in the ensuing gunfight. The government usually describes these deaths as “crossfire killings”, “gunfights” or “encounters”. The media also uses these terms to describe the legitimate use of police force.

Human rights organizations and the media have claimed that many of these crossfires are extrajudicial killings. Human rights organizations claim that in some cases law enforcement agencies have detained, interrogated and tortured suspects, brought them back to the scene of their original arrest, executed them and attributed the death to lawful self-defense in response to violent attacks.

Extrajudicial killings have dropped dramatically compared to last year. Human rights organization Law and Arbitration Center (ASK) reported that 19 people died in alleged extrajudicial killings or while in custody, including four in so-called crossfire with law enforcement agencies and eight due to physical abuse before or during custody. According to another domestic human rights organization, of the 25 cases of alleged extrajudicial killings between January and September, four were the result of law enforcement crossfire killings, 10 were shot dead by law enforcement officers, and the remaining 10 died of alleged torture while in custody. .

In March, the domestic think tank Center for Governance Studies released a report analyzing the incidence of extrajudicial killings between 2019 and 2021. The report claimed that the police, especially the intelligence branch, were involved in more extrajudicial killings than (51 percent). On the other hand, the Rapid Action Battalion was responsible for 29 percent of the cases. According to the report, extrajudicial killings in Cox’s Bazar are more than other regions of the country.

There have been numerous reports of alleged arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government agencies or its agents. It has called for an internal investigation into police policy due to the significant use of force. However, the government has not released official statistics on the total number of killings carried out by the security forces, nor has it taken transparent measures to investigate the cases.

Washington has expressed doubts that human rights organizations are not able to investigate independently. Even citizens have claimed that they are being deprived of justice here. In the few cases the government has investigated and set precedents, those found guilty have generally received administrative punishment.

In an official response, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said that the US report is far from the reality of Bangladesh. The state minister also claimed that information was taken from weak sources. He said that in Bangladesh, there are issues that are far from reality, which the government was excluding from outside. 

On Tuesday (March 21) night, he said in an initial response to the report at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “We will analyze and see if there is anything to be taken into consideration in them.” But in the context of the level of our communication with the United States, the objections that we have, there will be a high-level visit in the coming days or we will highlight the weaknesses of this report so that they are not included in next year’s report.

Stating that there is no qualitative difference between the 2021 and 2022 reports, he said, “Somewhere we have been appreciated and we thank them for that.” This report reflects the progress we have made in particular areas.

Mistakes in reporting: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already found some errors in the report. Shahriar Alam said, the number of missing people is mentioned here as 81. You know this number will be 76. In this regard 76 is very vaguely stated that Bangladesh has claimed to identify 10 persons. The matter was mentioned in the report as if it had not been addressed. But here I want to say unequivocally that after receiving the information about those 10 people, the United Nations did their own verification and already 10 people have been removed from the list of 76. So it is not that Bangladesh is making a claim on that issue.

Regarding the power of the Prime Minister: Bangladesh is definitely a parliamentary democratic state. Any country understands or knows how thorny our journey has been or still is. The state minister said that a prime minister has as much power as he needs. A friendly country has no moral right to question or question its degree of application or otherwise. To say this would mean much more, which would become uncomfortable. When asked if the comments related to the Prime Minister were sad and whether he would tell the United States about it, he said, “Of course, I will.”

Unregistered organization: It is illegal or unethical to collect information from organizations that are not registered. The state minister said, I would request you not only the United States, but other states to stay away from these organizations and conduct their activities in the days to come, taking into account those who are recognized according to the laws of our country.

The state minister said the USA needed to hold talks with Bangladesh before releasing the report. The information mentioned in the US report will be verified by the concerned ministry. Shahriar Alam said the government does not expect anyone else to interfere in the internal affairs of Bangladesh.

“The government took little means to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption, abuse, and murders by security officers,” according to the report. Shahriar Alam stated that the government would seek an explanation from the USA, noting that there were fundamental flaws in the report.

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin commented that the ‘2022 Report on the Human Rights Practices of Various Countries’ published by the US is an example of political lies and bias.

In a regular press conference in Beijing today (Tuesday), he said, in this report, the whole world did not see the human rights problems of different countries, but rather US dominance and abuse. In addition, the double standards of the United States are also visible.

The spokesperson said, “We help different countries to know the real situation of the United States.” On Monday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a report on the state of democracy in the United States in 2022. It examines the true state of American democracy in the past year with a wealth of factual information and media and expert opinion.

The report reveals the chaotic state of US domestic democracy and the turmoil and disaster caused by the imposition of its democratic system around the world. In this, everyone will know more clearly the real state of American democracy. And a few days later, the US will host the ‘Second Democracy Summit’. But it cannot hide the ‘weaponization goal’ of US democracy. The Chinese spokesperson also said that what is most needed in today’s world is to strengthen unity and cooperation on the basis of the UN Charter and adhere to true multilateralism without creating isolation in the name of democracy. The democratization of international relations should be jointly strengthened without interfering in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of democracy.

There are many limits to the report published by the US State Department. The report is based on the results of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the majority of which are supported by donors. They do not fund such programmes out of their own pockets. Because these NGOs, particularly those in Western countries, are supported by donors, they feel compelled to collect negative news, fearing that if there is just positive news, their financing will be cut off. Politics may or may not play a factor in this.

The latest US human rights report is outrageous, one-sided and outlandish. A reading of this human rights report shows that some individuals or groups with extreme anger against the government produced it. How another country can make such a statement about an independent sovereign country is also a big question. Such statements are against diplomatic etiquette and highly insulting to a sovereign state. But the question is how the United States has the courage to publish such a report? How can they interfere in the internal affairs of other countries? It has created a kind of negative perception among the people about the United States. So what affects the United States? Because there are things in this report that are not only untrue, but downright ridiculous. A recommendation given by some quarters without any verification was imposed by the United States as a report in its own name. How diplomatically polite this is may be the question.

They are naturally loyal to whichever country provides the funds because they are supported by donors. Even large NGOs rely on donations, and they struggle if they do not receive the funds they require. During the pandemic, this is exactly what happened. During the pandemic, NGOs were largely inactive. Because the Western world was also hurting from the pandemic’s consequences, the NGOs were unable to obtain much funding. In this sense, there is a constraint.

The USA, like Bangladesh, did not delegate this obligation to the UN. Who entrusted them with the task of compiling reports about other countries? What is the law in this regard? It is their own set of rules. Is this report credible in the eyes of the world community? No country, neither Bangladesh, India, or China, has entrusted them with this task.

Whatever they are doing may be logical, but it would have been great if they had done so after consulting Bangladesh. By making and publishing the reports, The USA always tries to interfere into some internal affairs of other countries. Human rights are a universally accepted term. Bangladesh is also working to promote human rights, law, peace and harmony in the country. Bangladesh has its own human rights commission. The legal codes of Bangladesh ensure the protection of human rights in Bangladesh.

Because Bangladesh has a strategic engagement with the USA, it may have brought this up during meetings.Bangladeshis must also be informed about human rights violations in the USA, or this endeavour will lose credibility.There are numerous examples of human rights violations in the USA.

Extrajudicial killings are committed by US police. In the USA, roughly 1,000 such occurrences occur each year on average. In addition, there was the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, not only Bangladeshi students, but students from the whole Indian subcontinent face hate crimes.

Let’s talk about the human rights situation in the USA. 918 people have been shot and killed by the police in the USA in the past year. This isn’t my data. This is the data from The Washington Post. Protests over the 2020 Black Lives Matter, revived by the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd by three Minneapolis police officers, appeared to be the largest protest movement in US history. The US should look at the human rights situation in its territory first.

On February 26, UN human rights experts called on the US government to end police torture and racial discrimination in the USA. According to reports of Western media outlets such as The Guardian and the BBC, there are serious violations of human rights in the USA. Shouldn’t the USA look at the human rights situation in its own territory first?

The constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh clearly spells out the fundamental principles of state policy. The Constitution explicitly articulates the protection and promotion of human rights (art. 11). It obliges all branches of government to respect and ensure the rights it enunciates.

Jubeda Chowdhury

Jubeda Chowdhury is a freelance writer with a Master's Degree in International Relations from the University of Dhaka.

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