(July 20, 2017 | Washington, D.C.) Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights strongly condemns the Malaysian Government’s recent detention and deportation of Bangladesh human rights leader Adilur Rahman Khan. Mr. Khan is the Secretary of Odhikar, one of the most respected human rights organization in Bangladesh, as well as the recipient of the 2014 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

At approximately 4:00 AM local time on July 20, 2017, airport authorities at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport detained Mr. Kahn on his way to speak at a conference organized by the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network. Mr. Kahn was detained in the airport for 16 hours without access to a lawyer. Malaysian authorities did not provide any explanation or justification for his detention. At 8:00 PM local time the same day he was compelled to board a flight back to Bangladesh. At this time it appears that Mr. Kahn’s passport is being withheld, not to be returned to him until his arrival back in Bangladesh. 

“The detention of Adilur was completely unacceptable,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Adilur is a human rights hero who has dedicated his life to shedding light on human rights abuses in Bangladesh and the broader region. There was absolutely no justification for this detention, and Malaysian airport authorities should lift any future restrictions on Adilur’s freedom of movement immediately and allow him to carry out his legitimate and vital work on behalf of human rights.”

Mr. Kahn has been subject to governmental harassment in Bangladesh for his commitment to documenting and reporting human rights abuses. In 2013 he was arrested and charged with violating Bangladesh’s controversial Information and Communication Technology Act of 2006, which has been criticized as criminalizing legitimate online speech in violation of international human rights law and targeting human rights activists.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights calls on the Government of Malaysia to immediately lift any restrictions on Mr. Khan’s freedom of movement and on the Government of Bangladesh to take no action to detain him or restrict his movement upon his return.