Bangladesh: Stop Punishing Human Rights Work

Deregistration of Bangladeshi organization Odhikar is part of pattern of curbs on rights groups



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Bangladeshi authorities should immediately reverse their decision to deregister prominent human rights organization, Odhikar, eleven organizations said today. Human rights defenders should be allowed to conduct their work without fear of reprisals, intimidation, and harassment from the authorities.

On June 5, 2022, Bangladesh’s Non-Governmental Organization Affairs Bureau sent a letter to Odhikar, denying the group’s application for renewal of registration. The letter said that Odhikar had published “misleading information” on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Bangladesh that has “seriously tarnished the image of the state to the world.” The bureau further claimed that Odhikar’s publications on such human rights violations were propaganda that “created various issues against Bangladesh.”

This latest development appears to be part of a pattern of reprisals by the Bangladesh government against human rights groups and defenders following the United States Global Magnitsky sanctions against Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion on December 10, 2021.

Odhikar has been documenting human rights violations in Bangladesh since 1994. Odhikar’s application for renewal with the Non-Governmental Organization Affairs Bureau was pending since 2014, severely inhibiting its ability to conduct human rights monitoring and reporting. But after years of inaction, in early February 2022, soon after the United States sanctions were passed, the bureau sent Odhikar a letter requesting specific information and do