Bangladesh authorities must immediately cease their harassment of Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar, a prominent human rights organization and ICJ affiliate, and members of his family, the ICJ said today.
On 5 February 2014, Odhikar reported that two officers of the Special Branch of Police followed a member of Adilur Rahman Khan’s family from his home. When he realized he was being followed he decided to return home. The security officers continued to follow him, and parked their motorcycle next to his house.
Odhikar previously reported that security forces monitor its Dhaka offices as well as Adilur Rahman Khan, his family and other staff. In August 2013, security forces raided Odhikar’s office, confiscating computers containing potentially sensitive material such as the identities of witnesses.
“These actions are deliberate acts of intimidation against Odhikar, its staff and their families, designed to silence the legitimate actions of human rights defenders,” said Ben Schonveld, the ICJ’s Asia Director.
Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups, and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Declaration on Human Rights Defenders), clarifies that States must take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders from any violence, threat, retaliation, pressure, or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of the legitimate exercise of rights, including the freedom of expression.
Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan, Secretary and Director of Odhikar, have been charged under section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, 2006, for publishing a report on the Government crackdown on a Hefazat-e-Islam rally in May 2013. The report alleged that 61 people were killed in the protest; the Government disputes the number of casualties. Rahman and Khan were indicted on 8 January 2014 and are both currently on bail.
Ben Schonveld, ICJ South Asia Director (Kathmandu), t: +977 14432651; email: ben.schonveld(a)icj.org
Reema Omer, ICJ International Legal Advisor (London), t: +447889565691; email: reema.omer(a)icj.org