HRW calls for international probe into enforced disappearances in Bangladesh

Dhaka, Dec 9 (EFE).- Bangladesh authorities should mark International Human Rights Day by welcoming an independent international investigation into the whereabouts of the victims who were forcibly disappeared and who remain missing, rights group Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

In a statement, the New York-based non-profit said that Bangladeshi authorities should stop tormenting families and provide information on the whereabouts of their loved ones disappeared by security forces.

Activists across the world will observe International Human Rights Day on Friday with a theme of Equality: Reducing Inequalities and Advancing Human Rights.

HRW said that it has documented 86 cases of victims in Bangladesh who were forcibly disappeared since 2009, when the Sheikh Hasina-led government took office, and who remain missing.

“The only way to move forward is to finally bring closure to the families of victims and hold those responsible accountable,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.

According to a 2019 report by Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), titled “Vanished without a Trace: The Enforced Disappearance of Opposition and Dissent in Bangladesh,” at least 507 people are believed to have been subjected to enforced disappearance in the country between 2009 to 2018.

Out of the list of 507 victims, compiled by civil society groups, 62 people were found dead, 286 returned alive, while the whereabouts of 159 disappeared persons are still unknown, according to the report.

According to a similar report released by HRW in August 2021, there had been just three cases of forced disappearances when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office in 2009.

However, by the next election in January 2014, the number had grown to 130, while as many as 98 cases were reported during the year leading up to the December 2018 elections.

Afroja Islam Akhi, the sister of Sajedul Islam Sumon, who became a victim of enforced disappearance in 2013, said security agencies continued to harass their family since her brother disappeared.

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