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Last Update: 10 Hour and 26 Minute ago
News code: 28191
Published Date: Saturday 7 September 2019 - 13:17:33
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HRW urges Bangladesh to remove restrictions on refugees

HRW urges Bangladesh to remove restrictions on refugees
World  - The Bangladesh government should end restrictions on Rohingya refugees’ freedom of movement and access to the internet and online communications, Human Rights Watch said today. Government restrictions have intensified following a failed attempt to repatriate refugees to Myanmar, a large rally by Rohingya refugees, and the killings of a local politician and four refugees.

"Bangladesh authorities have a major challenge in dealing with such a large number of refugees, but they have made matters worse by imposing restrictions on refugee communications and freedom of movement," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "The authorities should take a level-headed approach instead of overreacting to tensions and protests by isolating Rohingya refugees in camps."

While the authorities have a duty to protect camp residents, security measures should not infringe upon their right to freedom of movement outside the camps. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has recognized that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bangladesh is a party, applies "without discrimination between citizens and aliens," including refugees. The committee noted that, "Aliens have the full right to liberty and security of the person.... They have the right to liberty of movement."

The government actions appear to be in response to recent incidents involving the Rohingya refugees. A highly publicized attempt by the Bangladesh government to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar on August 22 failed because the refugees believe that the current conditions in Myanmar make their return unsafe. That day, alleged Rohingya refugees killed Omar Faruk, 30, a local leader of the ruling Awami League's youth wing in Teknaf. Law enforcement officers then killed four Rohingya refugees who they said were involved in the murder. Police claim the Rohingya were killed in "crossfire," a phrase often used by security forces in Bangladesh in cases of extrajudicial execution.

The Bangladesh government has increased the military presence in the camps to protect law and order. But refugees said the authorities were harassing them instead, particularly the organizers of the August 25 rally. One Rohingya activist told Human Rights Watch that previously, refugees would be eager to help police provide security in the camps. "But now the protectors are turning cruel just because we gathered on August 25," he said. "Some of our people are being interrogated by [intelligence] agencies continuously regarding that gathering. But we gathered there with intention to call the Myanmar government to sit with us, not to make the Bangladesh government anxious."

 

News Code: 28191
Published Date: Saturday 7 September 2019 - 13:17:33
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