HRW calls for UN probe, sanctions over Bangladesh ‘enforced disappearances’

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Dhaka

Human Rights Watch on Monday called for a United Nations probe into the alleged enforced disappearances of Bangladesh opposition activists, demanding sanctions on the officials found responsible.

The rights watchdog released a report identifying 86 political activists, businessmen and student members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party who went missing over the past decade.

“We want the UN and other international experts to launch an independent investigation, because it has become quite clear that the Bangladesh authorities are willing to look away and even provide impunity for these kinds of abuses,” Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia specialist, told AFP.

HRW called for “targeted sanctions” on members of the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite police squad accused of carrying out many of the disappearances.

There was no comment on the allegations from the government or the Rapid Action Battalion, which has been accused in the past of rights abuses including extrajudicial killings.

Other rights organisations have said 600 people have been seized in the past decade, and that those who have been freed are too scared to speak out.

The Odhikar monitor reported 16 suspected enforced disappearances in the first half of 2021.

“These enforced disappearances have created a terrible environment of fear,” said Nur Khan Liton, a former chief of Ain o Salish Kendra, a leading Bangladesh rights group.

Senior government officials have in the past denied that security agencies had seized anyone, saying the alleged victims have gone into hiding.—APP

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