In preparation of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Bangladesh in 2023, Freemuse, Drik, and PEN International have submitted a mid-term report.
This report evaluates the implementation of recommendations made during the 2018 UPR process and assesses the Bangladeshi authorities’ compliance with international human rights obligations with respect to freedoms of expression, information, and peaceful assembly, in particular concerns related to:
- Digital Security Act (DSA) and Information and Communication Technology Act
- Limitations on freedom of religion and belief
- Restrictions to the right to peaceful assembly and political engagement
- Attacks on academic freedom and artistic freedom
During the third cycle UPR in 2018, Bangladesh accepted 178 recommendations and noted 73 out of a total 251 recommendations received. This included some aimed at guaranteeing the rights to freedom of expression, information, and peaceful assembly. However, a crackdown on freedom of expression has been intensified since the review and civil society, including artists and journalists, has faced adversity from authorities. Our report concludes that Bangladesh has not adequately implemented the recommendations with respect to freedom of expression, particularly artistic freedom.
This includes the cases of writer Mushtak Ahmed and cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore who were arrested under the DSA in May 2020 for spreading false news and misinformation on the Bangladeshi government’s response to COVID-19. We are concerned about Kishore’s deteriorating health whilst detained, particularly with amplified risks of COVID-19 due to being insulin dependent, and echo the calls of the Special Rapporteur’s in the fields of cultural rights, freedom of expression, and physical and mental health to immediately release Kishore. Freemuse, Drik, and PEN International also call on the authorities in Bangladesh to drop all charges against Ahmed.
In the report, we set out to what recommendations to the Government of Bangladesh and call on them to uphold their commitments to the 2018 UPR cycle and to defending freedom of expression.
Read our recommendations and full report here: [added when uploaded]
For further information please contact Ross Holder, Asia Programme Coordinator at PEN International, Unit A, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: firstname.lastname@example.org