UK for rights, press freedom

Tasneem Khalil

Tasneem Khalil

[Dhaka Correspondent] United Kingdom urged the caretaker government, army and law-enforcement agencies of Bangladesh to act impartially with respect for public safety, human rights, media freedom and due process while carrying out reforms during the emergency rule.

“We will continue to urge the government, army and law enforcement agencies to act impartially, with respect for public safety, human rights, media freedoms, due process and the rule of law, in line with Bangladesh’s international human rights obligations,” British foreign and commonwealth office director for Asia John Dennis said Thursday. He made the comment at a press briefing in Dhaka before wrapping up his three day tour. He met the chief adviser, CEC, ACC chairman and the army chief during his tour and reiterated UK’s support for credible elections in Bangladesh.

He said, “We recognize that there are challenges, but it is important that nothing is allowed to deflect Bangladesh from its commitment to restore democratic process and hold elections as per the road-map.”

Referring to his meeting with army chief General Moeen U Ahmed, Dennis said, “I have got a clear impression that the army is working all out to help the caretaker government in delivering on its plans.”

He expressed his pleasure with the progress on voter registration, saying that the UK welcomes the CEC’s statement that should the voter list and electoral reforms be completed earlier, then the elections could be brought further forward from December next year.

Asked his opinion about the demand for lifting the state of emergency, Dennis said, “For holding a successful election, the situation has to be most congenial because democracy requires political debate.”

Responding to a quarry on if the UK is following whether due process is being followed dealing the cases of politicians, British high commissioner Anwar Choudhury said, “Yes, absolutely we are following the events and monitoring closely.” He, however, would not comment on granting bail to the two detained former prime ministers’ Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia on grounds that the matter is sub-judice.

Dennis observed that Bangladesh is striving for democracy, added that the United Kingdom, as a friend of Bangladesh, shared that desire, “Sustaining democracy in the longer term is essential to Bangladesh’s future development and prosperity.”