South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, reiterate their deep concern about the ongoing detention and the repeated refusal to grant bail to Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of the prominent human rights non-governmental organisation Odhikar and a member of OMCT General Assembly.

Today, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was presented to the Cyber Crimes Tribunal, which dismissed the bail petition filed by his lawyer on September 19. This was the third time Mr. Khan’s lawyer was submitting a petition seeking bail for his client, which was already denied on August 11 and September 9. Judge AKM Shamsul Alam scheduled the next hearing to October 21, 2013.

The Observatory further denounces that to date a Public Prosecutor has not yet been appointed to represent the Government at Mr. Khan’s trial, which amounts to further harassment and delay in framing charges against him. Furthermore, as the Judge is not releasing any order sheets to Mr. Khan’s lawyers, this makes any appeal to the higher courts impossible. Meanwhile, Mr. Khan remains arbitrarily detained in Kashimpur Jail number 1, on the outskirts of Dhaka city.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan has been arbitrarily detained since August 10, 2013, in relation to a fact-finding report issued by Odhikar on the killing of 61 people during an operation carried out on May 5-6, 2013 by security forces against Hefazat-e Islam activists in Dhaka. A charge sheet was subsequently filed against Mr. Khan as well as against Odhikar’s Director Mr. Nasiruddin Elan for allegedly “distorting images” and “publishing a fabricated report”, under Section 57 (1) and (2) of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act and Sections 505 (c) and 505A of the Penal Code, in relation to Odhikar’s report. If found guilty, the two human rights defenders might face up to 14 years in jail or Tk 10,000,000 (about 93,660 €) fine under the ICT Act and seven years’ jail term under the Penal Code.

In addition, on September 11, 2013, the Cyber Crimes Tribunal issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Nasiruddin Elan and, today, it directed officer-in-charge of Gulshan police station to submit by October 21 the report on the execution of the arrest warrant.

The repeated refusal of bail and this through a tribunal specially set up under the new law raises additional concerns about the fairness and credibility of the process”, said today OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. “We continue to hope that the judicial system will prove such concerns wrong and act independently as protector of rights. Detention pending trial must be an exception and not the rule under international human rights law”, he added.

The detention of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan is arbitrary and as such contradicts international human rights standards as well as Bangladesh’s obligations“, said Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH. “Accordingly, we call upon the Government of Bangladesh to release him immediately and unconditionally and to put an end to any harassment against Odhikar“, he added.

Source: World Organisation Against Torture – 25.09.2013