Human Rights Council
Bangladesh was reviewed on its human rights record at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, April 29 at its second Universal Periodic Review. 97 states made statements and 94 of them made specific recommendations.
The large and well prepared governmental delegation was headed by Ms Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs who started her presentation by expressing her sadness about the heavy loss of lives at the collapses in Savar, that claimed some 500 lives. The majority of the delegations expressed their deepest condolences and sympathy with the victims and the Bangladeshi nation for their loss.
Religious and Ethnic Minorities
Recommendations on the protection and promotion of rights of religious and ethnic minorities was addressed by several states, amongst them Switzerland, Thailand, Australia, and Denmark. The Government accepted several of the general recommendations that were made in regards to the strengthening of the rights of religious minorities, however it has placed the specific recommendation made by Switzerland 'to ensure the protection of minorities, including indigenous minorities, in conformity with international standards;' under examination.
The Government continued to express its commitment towards the full implementation of the CHT Accord, in accepting the recommendation made by Australia and Ecuador.
Sexual minorities were addressed by two states, USA and Chile, and the latter made the one and only recommendation on this issue: to decriminalize consensual sexual conduct and repeal section 377.
This recommendation was rejected by the Foreign Minister who referred to the 'harmony with social and religious mores' but she added that the Government does not condone discrimination against any individual on any pretext.
This was considered an important achievement since the previous review, where the Government even denied the existence of a LGBT community, said Shakawhat Hossain, of local organisation Boys of Bangladesh.
GHRD Side Event
GHRD and its partners, who were present at the review, hosted a side event on minority rights immediately after the review. More information on this will follow. The entire UPR review can be watched online.