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Procedure : 2007/2620(RSP)
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Texts tabled :

RC-B6-0333/2007

Debates :

PV 06/09/2007 - 10.2
CRE 06/09/2007 - 10.2

Votes :

PV 06/09/2007 - 11.2
CRE 06/09/2007 - 11.2

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2007)0385

Texts adopted
WORD 42k
Thursday, 6 September 2007 - Strasbourg Final edition
Bangladesh
P6_TA(2007)0385B6-0333, 0335, 0338, 0341, 0344 and 0346/2007

European Parliament resolution of 6 September 2007 on Bangladesh

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Bangladesh, in particular that of 16 November 2006(1) ,

–   having regard to the state of emergency which was decreed by the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh on 11 January 2007,

–   having regard to the Declaration of 16 January 2007 by the Presidency on behalf of the EU on the recent political developments in Bangladesh,

–   having regard to the EU Troika's visit to Bangladesh in June 2007,

–   having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the People's Republic of Bangladesh on Partnership and Development(2) ,

–   having regard to the statement of 17 July 2007 by the UN Secretary-General on Bangladesh,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the parliamentary elections which were to be held in Bangladesh on 22 January 2007 were postponed after poll-related violence by a High Court decision of 29 January 2007 and it has now been announced that they will take place before the end of 2008,

B.   whereas the political situation before the imposition of the state of emergency was characterised by a refusal to engage in dialogue among major political actors, personal antagonism, occasional violence and extraordinarily high levels of corruption,

C.   whereas the state of emergency was declared on 11 January 2007 and former Central Bank Governor Fakhruddin Ahmed took over as head of the non-party Caretaker Government on a platform for ending corruption,

D.   whereas the EU Election Observation Mission suspended its operations on 22 January 2007 as the likelihood of a free and fair election seemed remote at that time,

E.   whereas the United Nations decided to withdraw its support for the electoral process on the same day,

F.   whereas the military-backed Caretaker Government, with the objective of ending corruption, has introduced repressive measures, including a ban on all political activity, the detention or charging of over 160 political leaders, including three former Prime Ministers, Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia and Moudud Ahmed, and more than 100 000 civilians,

G.   whereas frequent violations of freedom of the press, including arrests and cases of torture, have been reported, involving journalists and media personnel,

H.   whereas the joint forces are playing an increasingly significant role in the nationwide crackdown on corruption, with sweeping powers to raid homes of suspects and confiscate property,

I.   whereas Bangladesh's longstanding tradition of secular democracy, including respect for human rights and especially women's rights, freedom of speech and religious tolerance is increasingly under threat,

J.   whereas the renowned Bangladeshi lawyer, human rights activist and UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Sigma Huda, was convicted in July 2007 and sentenced to 3 years in prison on charges of bribery and corruption; whereas there are increasing concerns that Ms Huda, who suffers from severe medical problems, is being denied specialised medical treatment; whereas on 17 July 2007 UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon called on the Bangladeshi authorities to fully respect Ms Huda's fundamental rights,

K.   whereas, under Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 'everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him',

L.   whereas on 27 August 2007 the Supreme Court overturned a High Court sentence for the release on bail of the former Prime Minister and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, who has been imprisoned since 16 July 2007;

M.   whereas the former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her son were arrested on 3 September 2007 in Dhaka on allegations of corruption,

N.   whereas the EU and Bangladesh have long standing good relations and are important economic partners,

1.  Is deeply concerned about the disproportionate response of the military and the police against the student protests which erupted in late August 2007 at Dhaka university; considers that the demonstrations were evidence of the unpopular political role played by the army; welcomes the fact that the curfew imposed in Dhaka and five other cities because of these protests was lifted on 28 August 2007; calls for the immediate release of the persons who have been arrested subsequent to the students' and teachers' unrest, including members of the teachers' association Shikkhok Samity, i.e. Anwar Hossain, Harun Ur Rashid, Saidur Rahman Khan and Abdus Sobhan;

2.  Is deeply concerned about the arrest and justification for ongoing detention of Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, arrested on 16 July 2007 and charged with extortion, and of Bangladesh Nationalist Party president Khaleda Zia, charged with corruption; calls on the Bangladeshi authorities to conduct the trial in a transparent way and according to the rule of law; more particularly, calls on the government to base its anti-corruption campaign solely on facts relevant in the context of criminal proceedings concerning corruption;

3.  Calls on the Bangladeshi authorities to allow access to all tribunals by international human rights organisations, interested parties and international observers such as EU Member State diplomats or the Commission delegation staff, to ascertain that proceedings are fair and impartial;

4.  Is deeply concerned about the conditions under which Sigma Huda, who has been sentenced on bribery charges is imprisoned, in particular the lack of any medical treatment which she urgently needs; urges the Bangladeshi authorities to provide Ms Huda with all the necessary medical treatment and help required by her health condition; calls on the Bangladeshi authorities to respect the fundamental rights of Ms Huda, in particular the right to receive visits from her family and friends in prison; urges the authorities to immediately allow these visits;

5.  Regrets that the Caretaker Government, while making progress on tackling corruption, has been far less assertive on political reform; calls for a return to democracy and the lifting of the state of emergency in Bangladesh; calls in particular for the lifting of the ban on all political activity, in order to enable all parties and political organisations to prepare for open and fair elections, as provided for under the constitution;

6.  Notes the publication of a roadmap for elections by the Election Commission in July 2007 and the efforts to overhaul the registration process and amend the electoral legislation; urges the government, nevertheless, to reconsider its present roadmap for elections and to speed up its preparations;

7.  Welcomes the EU's commitment to grant its full technical support to the Bangladeshi authorities for the organisation of the elections; calls for the EU Election Observation Mission to resume its long-term activities as soon as this is feasible and advisable;

8.  Demands that an end be put to the creeping militarisation of the country; is deeply concerned about the role of the Bangladeshi Military Intelligence Service ('DGFI'), the allegations of torture of persons held in custody,

9.  Calls on the Bangladeshi Government to refrain from any arbitrary expulsions of slum dwellers and landless peasants from urban roadsides and fallow lands, in line with the High Court's ruling, and to undertake the necessary evictions only on the basis of well prepared rehabilitation plans;

10.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to monitor carefully the human rights and political situation in Bangladesh in the light of recent events and to make representations concerning the continuance of the state of emergency; calls on the working groups established between the EU and Bangladesh on institution building, administrative reform, governance and human rights to contribute actively to stabilising democracy in Bangladesh;

11.  Calls on the Caretaker Government to make progress with the creation of a National Human Rights Commission, the implementation of which should also be a priority for the future civilian government;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(1) OJ C 314 E, 21.12.2006, p. 377.
(2) OJ L 118, 27.04.2001, p. 48.

Last updated: 29 April 2008Legal notice