A Dhaka court yesterday sent prominent Bangladeshi Human Rights Defender and Odhikar Secretary Adilur Rahman Khan to jail, following his arrest on the 10th of August. Plainclothes detectives had arrested Mr. A. R Khan from outside his residence on charges of tarnishing the image of the government, the state and law enforcers by publishing a what is being termed a “false report” online, about a crackdown on Hefajat-e Islam at Motijheel Shapla Chattar in May.

A lower court granted a five-day remand to interrogate Mr. A. R Khan, but the order was stayed by the High Court on Monday. The High Court however recommended Mr. A. R Khan be send to jail immediately, and  said that an investigations officer could interrogate the accused, if necessary, at the jail gate. Mr. A. R Khan’s lawyers had submitted a petition asking the court to provide Mr. A. R Khan with first class division accommodation while in jail custody, but the court rejected the plea.

Mr. A. R Khan was picked by as many as 10 plainclothes officers outside his house on the 10th of August. It is reported that the arresting officers carried no warrant with them, which makes the arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of Mr. A. R Khan a violation of his fundamental rights. A case was subsequently filed against him under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, also under clauses 1 and 2 of Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act of 2006.

International Human Rights organizations and networks, such as Human Rights Watch, the Asian Human Rights Commission have condemned the arbitrary and unconstitutional arrest of Mr. A. R Khan and have asked the government of Bangladesh ensure his safety while in custody. Several petitions appealing his immediate release are also in circulation. Those concerned can place their signatures here and here.

The International Commission of Jurists too, has called for the immediate release of Mr. A. R Khan.

“Adilur Rahman Khan is being charged for the lawful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, so Bangladeshi authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against him and release him

said Ben Schonveld, ICJ’s South Asia director, on its website.

Until the charges are dropped, he must be released on bail.”

The US government too has voiced deep concern over the arrest of Mr. A R Khan and has urged Bangladeshi authorities to grant him immediate release. A statement by the deputy spokesperson of the US Statement Department read;

“We have reached out to the Government of Bangladesh for an explanation, noting that this detention has a chilling effect on Bangladeshi civil society and is reverberating negatively around the world. We urge Bangladeshi authorities to immediately release Adil while the government pursues any outstanding legal issues through a fair and transparent judicial process.”