September 28, 2022, 6:15 pm


Diplomatic correspondent

Published:
2022-08-14 20:25:58 BdST

Dhaka committed to protecting human rights, FM Momen tells UN HR chief


Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Monday briefed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet about government's efforts to protect and promote human rights in the country.

Bangladesh also raised the issue of Rohygyia crisis and laid emphasis on repatriation of the Rohingya to their homeland in Myanmar's Rakhine State, Momen said.

Talking to reporters after his meeting with Bachelet at State guesthouse Padma, Momen said the UN rights chief shared their efforts to end the Rohingya crisis.

The foreign minister said Bachelet did not raise the issues of alleged enforced disappearances, and the Bangladesh side briefed the UN side on the issue.

Momen also briefed the UN Human Rights body chief about the "media freedom" in Bangladesh, saying that there is no restrictions.

The top executive of the UN Human Rights body will also have the opportunity to interact with the forcibly displaced Rohingya people during her trip to Cox’s Bazar, through which she would be equipped with concrete information to press hard the agenda for their repatriation to the ancestral homeland - Rakhine State of Myanmar, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Bachelet arrived here on Sunday morning on a four-day visit as Bangladesh continues “constructive dialogue” with her for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Before her arrival in Dhaka, the government strongly rejected what it says the visible "politically motivated efforts" of some corners to mislead the people by showcasing the visit of the UN High Commissioner as an occasion to "put undue pressure" on the government.

"The government of Bangladesh firmly believes that politicization of the human rights agenda never helps in promoting and protecting human rights of the people; and therefore, sincere dialogue and cooperation is the pathway," said the government early Saturday.

Bachelet, who was an elected president of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018), is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday morning.

Apart from her meetings with the Cabinet Members of the government on Sunday, she will interact with the National Human Rights Commission, youth representatives, CSO leaders and the academia during her stay in Dhaka.

She would also pay homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on August 15.

Also, Bachelet will deliver a speech at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies on Wednesday.

Bangladesh hoped to benefit from an objective appreciation of the High Commissioner regarding the achievements of the country, despite challenges.

Bangladesh has been closely working with the UN in the field of human rights; and this visit would be an important occasion to highlight Bangladesh’s national perspective and the government’s sincere efforts to protect and promote human rights of the people, including through updating domestic legal framework, creating awareness and sensitizing the implementing agencies, MoFA said.

This is indeed important that the national context, in particular the economic development amidst the pandemic and other evolving crises, the maintenance of peace and security of the people, and constraints like the Rohingya crisis and the adverse effect of climate change, are taken into due consideration in assessing the human rights situation of the country, it said.

The visiting UN High Commissioner remains well aware of the plethora of achievements of Bangladesh in the human rights domain, including through the treaty-body reporting as well as through other mechanisms, Bangladesh says.

Bangladesh hoped that the Chief of UN human rights mechanism would witness by herself how the country is doing miracles to keep on track their development journey; integrating human rights into it.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, no one in the country has died of starvation, said the government.

"Bangladesh, a country of 165 million, could afford to provide almost a million homes to the homeless. Over 10 million families are receiving basic food and essential supplies under its social security protection program," MoFA said.

Bangladesh is promoting basic human rights like right to food, right to accommodation, right to development etc. for the people, it mentioned.

"No one is getting killed either in shopping malls, schools or worship places in Bangladesh," MoFA said.

Earlier, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said: "We are eagerly waiting for the visit. She will see the progress of Bangladesh on the rights front and will also be able to know about the challenges facing it."

"They (PM Hasina and Bachelet) are very good friends," the state minister said, adding that they have experience in working together.

She will also try to understand how climate change is affecting the human rights situation in Bangladesh.

She recently indicated that she would not seek a second term for personal reasons as her term as high commissioner draws to a close.

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