Training on Torture and Human Rights in Bangladesh
Posted by Shahanur Islam at October 25th, 2010
On September 23, Shahanur Islam Saikot, JusticeMaker fellow 2010, conducted his training session on torture and human rights in a bid to strengthen prisoners’ rights throughout Bangladesh. The training was a collaborative event inaugurated by Fiorez Ahmed, the public prosecutor for Khulna Court and Sunil Chandra Das, the vice-president of Human Rights Development Project (HRDP). Aloka Nanda Das, a special public prosecutor, Saheb Ali, secretary of the Khulna press club and journalists from eight Bengali newspapers were also present.
Attendees were from the south of the country comprised of young professionals from a variety of sectors. Participants included 15 lawyers, four police and prison officials, five journalists, three judicial officials and three human right activists. Two of the attendees were selected as trainers for future events. The goal of the training was to instruct the participants on how to raise awareness about Bangladesh’s commitments to human right and reducing torture.
The training consisted of highlighting various aspects of international human right treaties. Shahanur explained the concept, definition and origin of human rights, including details of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), whilst comparing it to the constitution of Bangladesh.
In addition to the UDHR Shahanur addressed the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). Bangladesh is a signatory of CAT however has chosen to opt out of Article 14 which states the following:
“Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his dependants shall be entitled to compensation.”
Bangladesh’s reservation was registered as follows:
“The government of Bangladesh will apply Article 14 in consonance of the existing laws and legislation in the country.”
This reservation could potentially be problematic if national laws in Bangladesh regarding torture do not meet international standards.
An additional element which could raise concerns surrounding the eradication of torture is the fact that Bangladesh has not signed OPCAT. Shahanur emphasised to his audience the need to do so as the objective of OPCAT is this:
“The objective of the present Protocol is to establish a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
With his JusticeMakers project underway Shahanur continues to raise awareness surrounding basic legal right within Bangladesh.