Bangladesh 2016 Human Rights Report

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

Executive Summary

Bangladesh is a secular, pluralistic, parliamentary democracy. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League (AL) have retained power since the January 2014 parliamentary elections, which most international observers characterized as controversial and falling short of international standards.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

Extremist organizations claiming affiliation with Da’esh and al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) increased their activities in the country, executing high-profile attacks on religious minorities; academics; foreigners; human rights activists; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community members; and other groups. The government responded with a strong anti-militancy drive, which human rights groups claim has resulted in increased extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions for the purpose of extortion, enforced disappearances, torture, and other abuses of human rights. The government further used counterterrorism efforts to justify restrictions of civil and political rights.

The most significant human rights problems were extrajudicial killings, arbitrary or unlawful detentions, and forced disappearances by government security forces; the killing of members of marginalized groups and others by groups espousing extremist views; early and forced marriage; gender-based violence, especially against women and children; and poor working conditions and labor rights abuses.

Other human rights problems included torture and abuse by security forces; arbitrary arrests; weak judicial capacity and independence; lengthy pretrial detentions; politically motivated violence; official corruption; and restrictions on online speech and the press. Authorities infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. Some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) faced continued legal and informal restrictions on their activities. Discrimination against persons with disabilities was a problem, especially for children seeking admission to public school. Instances of societal violence against religious and ethnic minorities persisted. Discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation increased.

There were reports of widespread impunity for security force abuses. The government took limited measures to investigate and prosecute cases of abuse and killing by security forces, including through the Internal Enquiry Cell of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Public distrust of police and security services deterred many from approaching government forces for assistance or to report criminal incidents. In several instances, the government blamed victims of extremist attacks, increasing the impunity of attackers.

Full Report (PDF 315 KB)

In Bangla (PDF 1 MB)

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