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Govt rejects UPR recommendations on media law, death penalty, LGBT rights

  • Published at 10:30 pm May 18th, 2018
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Bangladesh first submitted its report to the UPR in 2009

The Bangladesh government has rejected a recommendation to revise media laws that was put forward by the US at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hearing in Geneva last week.

The country also rejected various recommendations put forth, including abolition of the death penalty and ensuring rights of the LGBT communities.

Bangladesh placed its national report for 2013-17 before the UPR after consulting with stakeholders in February, and defended it on May 14.

At the hearing, Bangladesh accepted 167 recommendations and rejected 61, reserving its decision on another 23.

The US recommendation said: “Revise media laws, in consultation with civil society, to decriminalize ‘defamation’ and ‘hurting religious sentiment.’”

It also proposed to limit the extended jail terms proposed for these offences.

A German recommendation, also rejected by Bangladesh, said: “Ensure that human rights activists and journalists can exercise their rights without fear, intimidation and harassment by redrafting the planned Digital Security Act, and repealing or amending all laws that violate the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”

Other recommendations rejected by Bangladesh included calls to abolish the death penalty and ensure the rights of and protection for LGBT communities in the country.

According to government statistics, death penalty was handed to 1,119 people in 2013-17, while the High Court upheld death penalty for 130 people and 17 were executed.

Asking to remain anonymous, a senior government official claimed it was not possible to abolish the provision of death penalty in the country, adding that the justice system was “fool-proof” to ensure the innocent would not be punished. 

He further said many countries had yet to accept LGBT communities and Bangladeshi society was also not ready to take this step. 

Bangladesh first submitted its report to the UPR in 2009.

In the review hearing in 2013, Bangladesh accepted 191 recommendations and refused five suggestions on the death penalty and LGBT communities.