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This report is regarding the National Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh,

Foreword

Hameeda Hossain, Chairperson of Ain o Salish Kendro (ASK)

This report entitled ‘National Human Rights Commission is in Critical Juncture of Hype versus Real Action’ forms a chapter in the 2012 Annual Report on the Performance and Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions in Asia, which is published annually by The Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI), a network of 30 organizations in 17 countries.

The Report seeks to evaluate the compliance of the national institution with the Paris Principles. Pursuant to consistently strong demands from citizen groups, and support from the UN for setting up of such an organization since 1996, the NHRC of Bangladesh was finally formed as a statutory body in 2009. It was expected to work for the prevention, promotion and realisation of human rights by incorporating strategies to create awareness of rights, as well as to address their violations by both state and non state actors.

In its first two formative years, the organization has included seven persons, two full time and five voluntary, four of the seven being women. Its staffing strength has not enabled it to carry out extensive investigation and monitoring of the human rights violations.

We need to keep this in mind in evaluating its mandate and its performance over the last two years since its formation.

This report prepared jointly by ASK and the Human Rights Forum provides a brief assessment of the human rights situation in Bangladesh in 2011, and identifies how the  NHRC addresses the violations of human rights and the weakness in its mandate which reduces the effectiveness of its strategies. It identifies developments in human rights legislation and policy framework but also draws attention to the limitations of the NHRC in addressing violations of human rights by law enforcement agencies, lack of compliance by the executive agencies with judicial decisions.

The critical assessment of the role of the NHRC in specific cases of violations or institutional weaknesses informs us of the need for broadening the mandate of the institution, making it less dependent upon government officials, strengthening its own capacity through independent recruitment and budgetary support. At the same time the recommendations in the report call for specific actions by both the government and the NHRC to enable the institution to fulfill its mandate in compliance with the Paris Principles so as to move forward in establishing the practice of human rights in the country.

We hope that this institutional review in Bangla and English will assist the NHRC to deepen its strategies for promoting human rights, and to call for a more independent mandate in preventing abuses of human rights.

We are grateful to Sultana Kamal and Zakir Hossain for preparation of this report. We welcome any feedback from the NHRC and other readers as this will enable us to further refine and improve our report.


This report has originally written as the Bangladesh Country Chapter for the
Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) Report 2012
by the Media and International Advocacy Unit of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK).

February 19, 2013