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Bangladesh summons UK envoy over HR report

  • Published at 06:12 pm July 11th, 2021
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Officials on both sides agreed on the importance of using authentic sources of information

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Bangladesh summoned the acting British High Commissioner in Dhaka Javed Patel on Sunday to convey the government's views and disappointment with certain issues mentioned in the Human Rights and Democracy Report 2020 released by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office last Thursday.

The acting high commissioner (AHC) was told that it was grossly misleading to use the words "house arrest" in reference to the current situation of Khaleda Zia, Chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), says a media statement by the ministry.

It was clarified to Patel that on the application of Khaleda's brother, the government had -- as per the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 -- suspended her prison sentence and "released" her in March 2020 on condition that she would receive medical treatment at home and would not travel abroad. 

Also Read - UK report: Political and media freedoms restricted in Bangladesh

It was pointed out that the suspension of her sentence and release from prison, applicable for an initial six -month period, were subsequently extended twice in September 2020 and March 2021.

The Foreign Ministry advised the envoy to consult the concerned authorities of the government in case of any confusion over such legal issues. It was further suggested that any official document of the UK government also refrain from using any form of insinuating and misleading statements about the government of Bangladesh or the ruling Awami League.

From the government's side, concerns were also raised over the use of the number of Rohingyas now temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh. 

Also Read - BNP seeks governemnt’s prompt steps to send Khaleda abroad

Foreign Ministry officials reiterated the government's position on certain terminologies used in the report in reference to Bangladesh that are either not internationally agreed upon or not recognized by Bangladesh's laws.

The acting high commissioner took note of the government's views and assured of conveying those to the authorities concerned. He said that the UK valued its diversified partnership with Bangladesh, and wished to continue a constructive dialogue on human rights and governance issues through the established mechanisms.

The officials on both sides agreed on the importance of using authentic sources of information for citations in official documents or reports.